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Lacking state money, Gainesville trims resurfacing projects

MLK Jr. Blvd. off the list for now

POSTED: October 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.

A slightly slimmer version of the street resurfacing project that the Gainesville City Council took off the table last week will go forward with or without funding from the Georgia Department of Transportation.

At its meeting last week, the council put the brakes on the Public Works Department’s plans to repave portions of 14 city streets in order to give the department time to decide how best to use the state funding that would support the project.

But those plans were further altered later that week when the DOT withdrew its planned $80,000 contribution through its Local Assistance Road Program.

Although Steve Farrow, the 9th District member of the State Transportation Board, told The Times he is hopeful the department will be able to restore the funding later in the fiscal year, city officials are planning to move forward with the $617,000 project without the DOT’s help.

A proposal the Public Works Department’s Bill Haley presented to the council Thursday morning asked the council to authorize the Marietta-based Baldwin Paving Co. to move forward with the project without the state money.

Forging ahead without the state’s funding means repairs on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which the city originally had planned to repave from E.E. Butler Parkway to Chestnut Street, will have to be put on hold.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard is the only street that has been cut from the project since the DOT pulled funding. Weeks ago, city officials cut planned repairs on Lakemont Drive, saying those repairs would put the project over budget.

The two streets are missing from the project now, City Manager Bryan Shuler said.

"That doesn’t mean we won’t do those streets, but we’re going to have to approach them in a different way that works," Shuler said.

Before the state pulled its funding for the paving project, the city already was reconsidering how to best use the funding, which comes with a list of prerequisite work that must be complete before the state will pay for paving.

On Oct. 7, Shuler asked the council to postpone its scheduled vote authorizing Baldwin Paving Co. to begin work, saying the DOT’s requirements for rebuilding some of the streets slated for paving — streets like Kensington Way, Kensington Place and Sylvan Park Drive — may be unnecessary considering traffic volumes.

Shuler said then that since the majority of the project would be paid for with local sales tax funds, city officials were going to have to re-evaluate how to best approach the project, weighing the city’s needs against the DOT’s requirements.

"It’s not that we don’t appreciate or don’t want the state money, but we’ve got our own needs and we know our roads probably better than anyone else," Shuler said Thursday morning. "If we have to do certain things and meet certain requirements to get that state money ... that we don’t necessarily think have to be done, then is that a good use of our money to get their money?"

The council will vote Tuesday on whether to award the repaving contract to Baldwin Paving Co. for a total maximum project cost of $617,000. The project will be paid for with revenues from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.



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