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Paving the way for progress

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State to fund more county road improvements

ROBERT ALLEN

Times Reporter

Gadsden County Commissioners met April 15 for their regular meeting. Future improvements of five county roads were a topic of discussion. 

Funding for the project will be provided through the Small County Outreach Program, the County Incentive Grant Program, and the Small County Road Assistance Program — all initiatives instituted by the Florida Department of Transportation. 

“It’s been a lifesaver for this county,” said Robert Presnell, county administrator, in a Times interview. “We’re talking millions of dollars.”

Presnell said these programs have accounted for the restoration of about 30 roads in Gadsden County.

From a list of 15 roads compiled by the county administration, the commissioners must determine which roads are in most dire need of repair. 

According to Florida Statute 339.2816, the official provision behind the Small County Road Assistance Program, the grant is contingent upon the county’s application of a prescribed set of general criteria when selecting roads for repair. Presnell said the research behind the list of 15 possible projects — three from each district — helps preclude the chance for disqualifications via the state’s standards.    

The statute reads, in part, “The following criteria must be used to prioritize road projects for funding under the program: The primary criterion is the physical condition of the road as measured by the department. As secondary criteria the department may consider: whether a road is used as an evacuation route, whether a road has high levels of agricultural travel, whether a road is considered a major arterial route, whether a road is considered a feeder road.”

This particular grant can pay for two of the road projects — one of which can cost around $1 million, and one of which must cost less than $200,000. 

The other two programs are accompanied by their own particular sets of provisional language.

Justin Ford from Preble-Rish, an engineering and surveying firm regularly contracted by the county, attended the meeting. He offered commissioners his professional opinion regarding road selections. He said Old Federal Road, Tolar-White Road and Charlie Harris Loop need repair. He also said Bell Road and McNair Road are in questionable condition.

After discussion, the commissioners decided to each select one road, rather than generate a group list. Presnell said from a list of five, the state would probably approve three of the projects — and complete them sometimes in 2016 or 2017.   

Commissioner Sherrie Taylor chose Old Federal Road. Commissioner Brenda Holt chose Hardaway Road. Commissioner Doug Croley chose Porter Mitchell Road. Commissioner Gene Morgan said he would like more time to consider his selection.  

Commissioner Holt motioned to approve the five roads, whichever may be selected for proposal via the commissioners’ agreed upon one-for-one system. Croley seconded. The motion passed unanimously.