TPO hoping for roads 'stimulous'

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By Amy Ryffel-Kragh

Marion County Commissioners, city officials and members of the Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) recently gathered in the commission auditorium to discuss “priority” road projects, which will hopefully be funded by President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Greg Slay, TPO director, led the meeting and discussed the proposed projects with the panel. He said the county was expecting to get approximately $9 million from the president’s stimulus plan, but the exact dollar amount has yet to be determined. Two lists of proposed road projects were submitted to the board for review, which totaled approximately $42 million.

One list was complied by a team of residents called the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) and the other was a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). Both groups had 13 resurfacing, seven capacity, and one bridge replacement project on the docket, but were prioritized in slightly different order. Slay said he was expecting that all of the resurfacing needs on the list would get completed with the stimulus funds.

The board unanimously approved the plans put together by Marion County patrons, but they did amend a road project on East Fort King Street by moving it higher on the priority list from number 20 to five. The only proposed project that would affect the Corridor is the addition of two lanes to S.W. 60th Avenue from 95th Street to 80th Avenue, but Slay said the plan would not qualify initially for stimulus money.

However a proposed Dunnellon road improvement would qualify if enough funds were received from the stimulus plan. The planned upgrade is in the city, involving County Road 484 and U.S. 41. It came in number eight on the CAC list.

In order for a project to make the road improvement list, it had to be “shovel ready.” Slay explained, meaning the project should be ready to move forward quickly. In addition, the road must be on “federal aid highway system, which is any road that is eligible federal funding. These types of roads are arterial and collector roads, which carry the majority of the traffic, he said.

When the stimulus plan is passed the county and city will have 75 days to get the projects under contract.

E-mail staff writer Amy Ryffel-Kragh at akragh@riverlandnews.com.