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Grant for 20th Street S.E. project falls through

Grady County came out on the short end of the stick when grants were awarded last week for transportation projects by the State Road and Tollway Authority.
Grady County, jointly with the City of Cairo and the Grady County Joint Development Authority, were seeking a Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank (GTIB) grant for $235,000 to combine with local funds for the full depth reclamation of 20th Street S.E. to its intersection with Joyner Road.
County officials learned the grant was not approved last Thursday and immediately went to work to attempt to identify other funding sources.
Grady County administrator Carlos Tobar, who wrote the grant application on behalf of the three bodies, Cairo city manager Chris Addleton and JDA executive director Chadd Mathis met informally with State Representative Darlene Taylor Thursday afternoon following the groundbreaking for the new Cairo High School College and Career Academy.
Rep. Taylor agreed to make contacts with agency heads to determine if any unspent money in the 2015-2016 state budget could be reappropriated for the street project.
20th Street S.E. is a major artery serving Milestone Industrial Park and other nearby employers. The road is partially a city street and a county maintained road and was not built to hold up to heavy truck traffic.
Tobar discussed the project more in depth with county commissioners Friday during a called meeting at the courthouse.
The county administrator said he had been in consultation with engineer Stacy Watkins, who recommended the county combine the 20th Street project with the full depth reclamation of the portion of Old 179 North located in the corporate limits of Whigham in order to obtain the best possible pricing for the work.
“We need your commitment to fund the project if we don’t get any additional state aid,” Tobar said.
According to Tobar, there is a chance by combining the projects, the actual cost of construction could come in below the budget for the two road jobs.
Tobar said if the board was committed he would ask Watkins to complete the engineering for the 20th Street project.
Grady County Commission Chairman Charles Norton questioned how Watkins would be paid.
“Is this another deal where he gets paid a percentage based on his estimated cost or will he be paid off the bid and not his estimates?” Norton asked.
Tobar said the work required should be “cheap” and he said he believed it would be a fixed fee and not a percentage of the estimated cost.
“I seem to remember a fixed fee being mentioned,” Commissioner Ray Prince said.
“It wasn’t a fixed fee on Gainous Road or State Park Road,” Chairman Norton replied.
The county had previously committed $80,000 from its Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant funds from the state for the project. Commissioner Elwyn Childs asked Tobar where the additional money required would come from. The administrator said there is $103,000 in the current LMIG that he had not programmed because he had a “bad feeling” about the grant.
The board voted to commit to funding the county’s portion of the project regardless of whether or not additional state funding is received.
The Cairo City Council met last Thursday night, but the council did not discuss the rejection of the grant application or funding for the city’s share of the 20th Street project.
City fathers will not meet again until July 11. The city budget approved last week included $125,000 for the project, but additional money would be needed.
The Grady County Joint Development Authority has designated $25,000 of authority money for the project.

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