Tobar says news on Old 179 North project could come next week

County officials may know as early as next week if the state will invest upwards of $4 million in repairs to Old 179 North, according to Grady County Administrator Carlos Tobar.
“We could hear something by next week,” Tobar said Tuesday.
The county administrator has been lobbying Georgia Department of Transportation Planning Director Jay Roberts with the assistance of State Representative Darlene Taylor to include the county road in its planned transportation projects.
Tobar submitted engineering estimates for the project to state officials this week.
“It would be nice to hear that the project has been programmed at the staff level, but nothing is guaranteed until the DOT board approves funding for the project,” Tobar said. He said he did not know if or when the DOT board would act on the request even if the project is included in DOT staff recommended projects.
In the proposed first phase of the project three-fourths of a mile of Old 179 North within the corporate limits of Whigham would be resurfaced. The estimated total cost of phase one would be $311,251.50, according to estimates developed by consulting engineer Stacy Watkins.
Tobar is seeking $237,403.50 from the DOT and the county would match that with $50,000 in county labor and a proposed local cash match of $23,848. The county administrator has previously said the city of Whigham would invest $5,000 in the project.
Phase two would encompass the remaining 16 miles of the former state route and would include the widening of 11 culverts and extending of 24 pipes.
Total cost of phase two is estimated by Watkins to be $5,718,034.87 of which Tobar is seeking $4,002,624.41 from the state. The county’s match would be $835,142.68 in in-kind labor and $880,267.78 in local cash.
According to Tobar, the county would have to allocate the Local Maintenance Improvement Grant funding it receives from the state over a three year period to cover the local cash match.
Tobar also said this week he would apply for a Safety Action Plan grant to assist with the work on the culverts and pipe. If approved, that would reduce the need for LMIG funding for the project.
Driving up the cost of the project is the widening of the lanes to 12 feet from the current nine feet in the unincorporated area to improve the safety of motorists traveling on the road.
While the county road department can do all of the pipe work, Tobar says a contractor will have to be hired to widen the culverts.
“We are asking for 70 percent of the total let price from the state. That is what (Rep.) Darlene (Taylor) told me to ask for,” Tobar said last week.
Based on Watkins’ report, the road is not currently capable of handling the heavy truck and farm equipment traffic. The consulting engineer says the only option to provide a long-term solution is to replace the existing roadway base and surface with a full-depth reclamation.
In 2010, the county completed a full-depth reclamation project on Old 179 South, which runs from Whigham to Calvary and is 12.2 miles long. The total cost of that project was $2,240,430.67 of which the state contributed $691,000 and the county invested $1,459,030 in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax proceeds.
According to county officials, the last major improvements to the former state route was done in 1975 when the DOT ended maintenance on the road and it became a county road.

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