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Gainesville may use DOT funds to fix roads
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The Gainesville City Council will consider accepting funds from the state Department of Transportation’s Local Assistance Road Program today.

Gainesville’s Public Works Director David Dockery has asked the council to accept state funding to pave portions of five city streets in 2010 — Hilton Drive, Heritage Road, Heritage Place, Academy Street and Brandywine Court.

The state DOT has committed $55,200 to the approximately $125,000 project. The council is expected to vote today at the 9 a.m. meeting whether to accept the state funds and to provide the $69,800 in local funding that is required to complete the project.

Last year, Gainesville did not accept $80,000 worth of funding from the state program to pave sections of 15 city streets, including Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Laurel Springs Drive, Airport Parkway, Forrest Avenue and Bradford Street Extension.

City officials then said that the DOT-mandated preparatory work, milling and patching — that the city would have had to pay for and complete before the streets could be repaved — would be too extensive and too costly.

"DOT was going to require us to spend a great deal of money in order to get the base of those streets into a condition that they felt was acceptable for LARP funding," Dockery said.

"And the way the engineer explained it to me was that they basically expected basically state highway standards before they would cost-share in paving that. And we didn’t feel it was a good expenditure of city money to get those streets into that good of condition before they were paved. Basically, we didn’t feel like we would get the bang for the buck to accept the LARP funding."

Instead, the city scaled down the project to repair 13 city streets with revenues from sales taxes and the city’s capital improvements fund. The scaled-down project cut repairs to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, but Dockery expressed hope that a new state grant program called State Aid would pay for repairs to the road from its intersection with E.E. Butler Parkway to Chestnut Street.

Dockery said on Monday that the state still has not responded to that request for grant money.

"The state’s running pretty far behind on grant and financial funding type issues, DOT is," Dockery said.

To keep the cost of preparatory work down, the roads on this year’s list of LARP-funded repair projects that will receive state funding are not in as poor of shape as the roads on project lists in previous years, Dockery said.

"There are some streets that are in worse condition than these," Dockery said.

City streets in worse condition will be paved in-house, without state funding this year, Dockery said. But on Monday, Dockery could not specify which of those streets will be repaired.

If the City Council votes to accept the LARP funding today, the repairs to Hilton Drive, Heritage Road, Heritage Place, Academy Street and Brandywine Court will begin in February or March, Dockery said.