Georgia Department of Transportation’s Chief Engineer Meg Pirkle told the State Transportation Board on Thursday that Congress’ failure to pass a long-term funding bill is stalling progress to repair and improve roads and bridges.
“Typically our December letting (of projects out for bid) would have been authorized about three weeks ago,” Pirkle said during the meeting, which was held in LaGrange. “Unless miraculously Congress acts tomorrow, or maybe by Monday or Tuesday, it’s very likely we may not have the time to authorize a December letting.”
The projects will probably be pushed back for a few months at least.
The current transportation funding act, known as MAP-21, has been given short-term extensions dozens of times and it expires again Oct. 29. Congress has been unable to compromise on a long-term solution.
The delay in starting road projects is an unwelcome repeat of a similar situation that occurred during the last state fiscal last year which ended June 30. No transportation projects in Georgia were let out to bid in the months of January and February because of the federal transportation funding crisis.
GDOT has since caught up on those projects, Pirkle said.
The projects likely to be delayed beyond December are worth a total of $123 million. They include a $2.5 million bridge preservation project at 10 locations along I-85 in Fulton County, and the $2.57 million pavement resurfacing and maintenance of Ga. 139 from the Cobb County line to Cascade Avenue in Fulton County. Also in peril is the $5.6 million widening of Flint River Road from Glenwood Drive to Kendrick Road in Clayton County; $625,000 set aside for Phase III of the Southeastern Railway Museum in Gwinnett County; and $1.3 million worth of improvements for the Cobb County intersection of Ga. Highway 5 and Ga. Highway 120 Alternate.
“They’ll probably will get done, just not on schedule,” Pirkle said.
The Federal Highway Trust Fund, which bankrolls most transportation projects across the country, is in danger of dropping below safe levels on Nov. 20, according to the Federal Highway Administration. To see the updated Highway Trust Fund Ticker, click here.