by Doug Walker
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More than $15.1 million in stimulus money has been earmarked for infrastructure improvements in Rome and Floyd County. The bulk of that, more than $9.3 million, is flowing through the Department of Transportation for road projects. Another $4.5 million is designated for water system improvements in Cave Spring.
Bartow Paving of Cartersville bid $6.9 million for the installation of 21 turn lanes or median cuts along Ga. 53 from the Rome city limits to the Gordon County line.
It’s unquestionably a stimulus project for the owners at Bartow Paving. Sam Shropshire said the company has laid off about 15 employees during the last couple of years. Now the company will have to add employees back as the Floyd County project gets under way.
Shropshire said, “I don’t anticipate them being part-time. I hope we are migrating back to historic work levels.”
Northwest Georgia Paving in Calhoun got the contract for milling and repaving of Broad Street in Rome. Brian Roberts, a project manager for the paver, wonders where the line is drawn between projects that have been on the books for years and something funded as a special stimulus project to help get the economy going again.
“It’s increased paperwork. Stimulus project bids involve an unbelievable amount of paperwork,” Roberts said.
Both the Broad Street and Charlton Street projects would typically be funded with Local Assistance Road Program (LARP) money from the state. Rome Public Service Director Kirk Milam said that since those are being funded with the stimulus dollars, it should result in other local projects being bumped up on the LARP list, creating more work for paving contractors.
Roberts said his firm has only gotten one other stimulus project — in Walker County. “It filled in a week’s worth of work that we didn’t have and we’re grateful for that,” he said.
Roberts did report that Northwest Georgia Paving has not added any employees as a result of picking up a couple of stimulus projects.
The city of Cave Spring received $4.5 million in stimulus money through the Environmental Protection Agency to upgrade its water system. Cave Spring Mayor Rob Ware said the grant would greatly enhance water capacity in Cave Spring, southwestern Floyd County and even into communities across the state line in Alabama.
Getting stimulus money for the Cave Spring water project was a big plus in terms of timing and financing. Getting the project done today enhances the city’s ability to sell additional water to its customers sooner. Having the project funded by stimulus money means the city did not have to go into the bond market or seek a Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority loan for the project.
That project is providing 50 to 60 jobs spread throughout four different contractors.