Smith is making good on a promise to actively lobby for funding for the long-awaited route that will link U.S. 411 to Interstate 75 in Bartow County.
“This is a very time-critical request because the U.S. Congress is processing the project list now,” he wrote.
“They are willing to immediately consider adoption of this project in the package, but only with the requisite certification from the State of Georgia that we are willing to move forward.
“As outlined above, exceptions have been made at the federal level to fast-track this project through its various clearances and certifications and, I strongly urge your assistance in helping to expedite the state approval for this project as well,” Smith wrote.DOT representative David Doss
Click here to see the full letter Preston Smith wrote.
The project has cleared environmental hurdles and was slated for construction until the GDOT put a hold on work because of budget constraints.
The GDOT put together a list of “shovel-ready” projects eligible for funding through an economic stimulus package called for by president-elect Barack Obama, but did not include the Connector on the list.
Rome’s David Doss, the 11th district representative on the State Transportation Board, said federal guidelines for what qualifies a project for stimulus funding are still changing.
“The requirements and guidelines from the federal government are changing almost daily,” Doss said. “At first, the stipulation was projects that are able to go to construction within 90 to 120 days, which the 411 Connector is not.
“But in the last few days, the new guidelines are allowing for projects that are also engineering and right-of-way ready in 90 to 120 days,” he added. “That absolutely could begin on the connector.”
Doss said until the final guidelines are set in stone, it’s hard to determine a timetable for a start date for the connector.
“Right now, it looks like the stipulations for the stimulus package are still a work in progress,” he said. “Until the final parameters are set, it’s hard to give a definite answer as to whether or not the 411 Connector is in or out (of the stimulus package funding.)”
Doss also said that the stimulus package money would be “100 percent federal dollars,” not requiring a state match.