First projects from stimulus set to begin
I-20 repaving to start in April

CONYERS - Resurfacing Interstate 20 from Turner Hill Road in DeKalb County to the Ga. Highway 138 exit in Conyers will begin next month and is the first local road project announced to be funded through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The Georgia Department of Transportation notified elected officials in Rockdale and Newton counties last week about the project, which will cover six miles of both east- and westbound lanes of I-20. Work is scheduled to begin in mid-April and will be completed by the fall, according to the GDOT letter.

The resurfacing will take place overnight, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., Sunday through Thursday, and from 9 p.m. to 11 a.m.

Fridays and Saturdays. Work will be suspended on holiday weekends.

Other roads projects that have been approved for federal stimulus funding in Rockdale County include a resurfacing of Salem Road, also known as Ga. Highway 162, from the Newton County line to Dogwood Drive in Rockdale.

The resurfacing of Ga. Highway 20 will be completed in two phases: the first will be from the Milstead Avenue intersection to Ga. 138 and the second will be from I-20 to the Newton County line.

Start dates for those projects have yet to be announced.

The projects approved must be "shovel ready" to be eligible for federal stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is estimated to bring about $6 billion to Georgia in the form of spending on transportation, schools, small business and health care.

Rockdale County officials said they are also seeking funding for local projects that meet federal stimulus requirements.

Michael Smith, general manager of the Office of Community and Capital Improvement, said he is working to obtain full funding for construction of the South River trail and Lorraine trail head.

Georgia has $28 million available for transportation enhancement projects. The trail would qualify for some of that funding, Smith said, and he has already submitted a request for money to complete a section of the trail, called phase B, from Daniels Bridge Road to South Rockdale Community Park.

The funding for the project currently requires 20 percent matching funds from the county and 20 percent from the PATH Foundation. Smith said he is seeking to switch the project to 100 percent funding from the federal government.

Smith said he believed the trail projects could be completed in short time.

"On phase B, right of way has been approved and the environmental documents have been approved, so all that is remaining there is the final design," he said. "On the Lorraine trail head we're in the middle of design now, and of course, we don't have right of way because we already own the property so we have told the DOT that these projects meet the readiness criteria."

Smith also said he and Rockdale County Chief of Staff R.J. Hadley are working to obtain funding through the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant program. The grants are provided to help reduce total energy use and improve energy efficiency in transportation, building and other sectors.

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com