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With the assistance of State Representative Darlene Taylor, a delegation of Grady County officials had an audience with Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry Thursday in Atlanta.
Grady County Commission Chairman Phillip Drew led the delegation, which included Vice Chairman Keith Moye and Grady County administrator J.C. (Buddy) Johnson III.
“It was a very positive meeting and we appreciate Representative Taylor for arranging it for us. The commissioner was very knowledgeable about Grady County and our infrastructure needs,” Chairman Drew said.
The D.O.T. commissioner also told local leaders that he was very interested in assisting communities like Grady County, where voters had approved a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. The commissioner said communities that have implemented a TSPLOST are doing all they can to help themselves and he favors assisting those communities with state financing.
Chairman Drew said the primary focus of the meeting was to seek state aid in the rehabilitation of Pine Park Road and the replacement of the bridge on that road.
The county is working with its consulting engineer, Stacy Watkins, to complete engineering for the Pine Park Road project. Commissioner McMurry indicated to county leaders that if Grady County can get the engineering back to him shortly, there is the possibility of some state funds being appropriated for Pine Park Road in the state’s current fiscal year, which ends June 30 and potentially more money in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
“We don’t know exactly how this might work out yet, but the commissioner was very encouraging and supportive. Representative Taylor is also working very hard on our behalf,” Chairman Drew said.
Both McMurry and county officials said the project likely would be done in phases, which could add to the length of time to complete the entire project.
On Tuesday night, Chairman Drew urged for patience from those who reside on Pine Park Road or utilize it on a daily basis.
“We are not sitting still. I promise you that this board is doing everything possible to address the road needs of this county. I’ve ridden on that road and others and I know how bad it is. That bridge has got to be replaced as well, but this is going to take some time. Every dollar that we can get from the state will free up TSPLOST dollars that we can use on other roads in the county,” Chairman Drew said.
Grady County administrator Johnson said the board’s goal is to “spread the love” around the county by maximizing on state investments and freeing up local sales tax proceeds to tackle other road improvement projects around the county.
“The D.O.T. commissioner is hearing this from all 159 counties. It’s not just here, there are road needs all over this state, but he indicated he was very much willing to help us and we appreciate that,” Chairman Drew said.
Vice Chairman Moye echoed the comments of Drew and Johnson. “It was a very good meeting in Atlanta,” Moye said.
In related news, Chairman Drew said that weather had caused a delay in work beginning on Open Pond Road as well as the new manned dumpster site west of Whigham.
Commissioner Ray Prince asked the county administrator to discuss with Cairo city manager Chris Addleton about city crews using Perry Road. Prince said he had received complaints from residents of the area that the city vehicles were doing damage to the road. “Rather than using a road that they maintain, they are using one of ours and tearing it up,” Commissioner Prince said.
Commissioner LaFaye Copeland, who participated Tuesday night via conference call, said that she had previous discussions with Addleton about the situation. “This is nothing new, and Chris (Addleton) is well aware of the situation,” Commissioner Copeland said.
Johnson said he would contact the city manager to see what could be worked out.