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GDOT to expedite transportation projects

By Maria-Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

The State Transportation Board, which determines policy and provides general governance for the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), recently voted to expedite work on 33 transportation infrastructure projects valued at $400 million, to create and save jobs for Georgia's troubled highway construction industry.

According to Jill Goldberg, spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Transportation, various transportation projects will take place in Clayton County.

Maintenance work on Interstate Highway 75/State Road 401 is included in the project list, said Goldberg. About six miles of the interstate, from Interstate Highway 285 in Clayton County and State Route 54 in Fulton County, will be affected, she said.

Goldberg said about 83 percent of the milling and resurfacing work will take place in the 5th congressional district, with an estimated cost of $29.3 million, and about 17 percent will occur in the 13th congressional district, with an estimated cost of $6 million.

Overall the entire project will cost approximately $35 million, she said.

"All of the pavement throughout Georgia is deteriorating," explained Goldberg, in a telephone interview. "It constantly needs to be resurfaced."

Another transportation project will take place in Clayton and Fayette counties, on State Route 54, said the spokeswoman. The project will begin in Fayette County from just north of McDonough Road, to Tara Boulevard in Clayton County, she said. The project will have an estimated cost of $11.9 million.

Goldberg said the project will include the widening of State Route 54, from two, to four lanes, with a 24-foot raised median, and a four-foot bike lane. The land for the additional lanes has already been identified but not purchased yet, she said.

"The state or county buys the land," she said.

An additional 5.7-mile transportation project will probably have numerous phases, and will also touch Clayton and Fayette counties, said Goldberg.

Currently, said the spokeswoman, the project has two phases, with the first being in a preliminary engineering status, which the department uses to inspect the site and determine various factors for the construction project in mind. This will cost the department $1.1 million, and is not the cost of the project itself, she explained.

Goldberg said the Department of Transportation will seek expert advice from outside entities, including consultants or engineering firms, for the inspection of the site. As the bidding date nears, the project's status should change, and its cost should be more clear, she said.

The preliminary engineering phase will affect Fayette County, she said.

The Clayton County portion of the project has already been determined, and construction will need to take place, at a cost estimated at $1.9 million. The overall project will occur on State Route 920, from State Route 54 in Fayette County, easterly to U.S. 19/41 in Clayton County, she said.

"About 37 percent will affect Fayette County, and 63 percent will affect Clayton County," she said.

The Department of Transportation will begin taking bids on the 33 transportation infrastructure projects in January, and work is anticipated to begin in the spring.

"The money for these projects is available from the Department of Transportation's fund balance reserves, because Georgia DOT has been extremely conservative in its spending during the economic downturn, and at the same time aggressive in maximizing its use of available federal monies," she explained.

The 33 projects were unanimously approved in the board's 2010 final meeting. Approximately $152 million was set aside for new capacity projects, $132 million for maintenance work and $117 million for right of way acquisition of land.

"Expenditures for rights of way purchases were included in the program, to create a 'reserve' of additional projects ready for letting [bidding] as soon as the necessary construction funding becomes available," added Rudy Bowen, chairman of the State Transportation Board.