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Sunday May 3rd, 2015 7:52AM

Transportation officials say lack of federal funding slows work

By B.J. Williams News Director
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GAINESVILLE - State Department of Transportation Commissioner Keith Golden told a Gainesville audience Thursday that lack of funding from the federal government is hampering highway projects not just in Georgia, but all over the country.

Golden was on the Gainesville campus of the University of North Georgia along with other transportation officials for the Annual Transportation Forum sponsored by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.

"In a nutshell what's going on is the 18.4-cents of federal gas tax we send to Washington is not enough to fund the [Highway] Trust Fund that Congress has said we're going to spend on transportation," said Golden.

He told the packed auditorium he sees the fund becoming insolvent as early as August.

DOT District Engineer Bayne Smith brought credence to Golden's statements as he outlined major transportation projects for the Hall County area. While a number of those projects are underway, there are those that are being planned, but have no funding. The widening of SR 11/US 129 from Limestone Parkway to Nopone Road is one such project; the widening of SR 60/Thompson Bridge Road from SR 136 to Yellow Creek Road is another.

Hall County Transportation Director Srikanth Yamala shared some of the same concerns with the audience, outlining four specific projects (Spout Springs Road, the Sardis Road Connector, SR 13/Atlanta Highway, SR 369/Browns Bridge Road) that all need expansion or completion, but are stalled because of lack of dollars.

Yamala said local and state government is going to have to search for other sources of funding, rather than relying on the federal government to help with needed transportation projects.

Hall Co. has unique transportation challenges

Golden also pointed out that the Hall County area has unique transportation challenges, mainly because of Lake Lanier.

"With all the lake crossings and water crossings - and obviously bridges are very expensive - a big part of your infrastructure up here is going towards that," said Golden.

Smith reviewed several bridge projects for the audience, updating the group spcifically on the construction currently underway on SR 284/Clarks Bridge Road. So far, two of 12 caissons have been poured at the bridge site near the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue. That $10.2 million project is slated for completion in December 2015.

Smith noted that almost every major bridge in the county is slated for maintenance or replacement in the near future.
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