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Development officials want work done to 20th Street S.E.

Grady County Joint Development Authority officials say that it is important to improve a major thoroughfare that serves large employers here and Milestone Industrial Park.
JDA members discussed on Tuesday the opportunity for the authority to team up with the city of Cairo and Grady County to apply for a state grant to rehabilitate 20th Street from U.S. Hwy. 84 to Joyner Road. Part of the street is inside the corporate limits of Cairo and just under half of it is in the unincorporated county.
The JDA authorized the investment of up to $25,000 of authority funds in the project at the authority’s November meeting held Tuesday.
On Tuesday night, Grady County commissioners took up the issue at the request of JDA Chairman Charles M. Stafford.
According to Grady County Administrator Carlos Tobar, Chairman Stafford has said the authority would not be successful in recruiting new businesses with 20th Street in the condition it is in.
Tobar told commissioners that the only way to improve the street is to do a full-depth reclamation, which would create a stronger, more durable road bed and a smooth surface.
“You can’t just go resurface it or it will be torn up in a year or less,” Tobar said.
The engineer’s estimate for the project, which was developed by consulting engineer Stacy Watkins, is approximately $490,000.
Tobar told commissioners that the JDA was committed to investing $25,000 and that the city would be asked to commit $43,747.50 for the project. He recommended the county appropriate $31,252.50 for the project to bring the total local match to $100,000. Tobar said the county would apply for a Department of Transportation grant of $390,000 to fund the remainder of the project.
According to Tobar, the county has been encouraged by DOT officials to make application and local officials are confident the grant will be awarded.
Vice Chairman LaFaye Copeland suggested waiting until the city committed to the project before the county made a decision.
Chairman T.D. David said that would only delay the grant application and suggested the county take action contingent on the city’s participation in the project.
Commissioner Elwyn Childs questioned where the county’s $31,252.50 match would come from. According to Tobar, the funding would come out of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax proceeds.
Commissioner Childs voiced his opposition to spending all of the SPLOST on other projects when major projects like the full-depth reclamation of Old 179 had not been completed. The county has completed the southern portion, but has not begun work on the northern section of the road.
“179 is in bad shape and that $31,000 could go toward a little piece of that,” Childs said.
Commissioner Charles Norton said if the authority was looking to locate a new company off that road it would not have an issue with the project, but he noted that the main entrance to Milestone Industrial Park is off Hall Road and the county had worked with the state to make improvements to Hall and Joyner Road for economic development.
After debating the issues the board voted 3-2 to appropriate the county’s share of the project with Commissioners Childs and Billy Poitevint voting in opposition.

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