JASPER, Ga. – The citizens of Pickens County breathe a sigh of relief today as County Commission Chairman Rob Jones shares information on funding for repairs of the damage that has shut down Jones Mountain Road close to two months ago.
Citizens have been avoiding the area since February 22, 2019, when the county closed the road after major storms washed out the ridge under the road and caused part of the pavement to crumble away. The road is still closed today, but Jones says this will change soon as the funding will allow them to move forward with a proposal from GeoStabilization International to reopen the road.
The county has secured $1.3 million in funding from the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank with the SRTA (State Road and Tollway Authority as well as an additional $500,000 from the state’s emergency LMIG (Local Maintenance Improvement Grant) to cover the estimated $1.8 million project. These estimations came when Chairman Jones called the event a “major disaster” in early March.
Jones says that additional companies have spoken with the county about their own proposals for the repairs. But utilizing these funds requires the project to meet and adhere to DOT guidelines. Additionally, operating under the emergency status for the county, they will not wait for a bid process that could take up another two months before any repairs begin. Instead, the county is moving forward under the proposal with GeoStabilization International.
While the road will take upwards of two months to fully repair, Jones reiterated his intentions, as he explained in the March Commissioners’ Meeting, to get the road open for use of a single lane within the next two weeks. As part of the proposal, this quick turnaround will address the extra 4.7 miles that both citizens and emergency services must travel to go around the slide area.
While some points of the project are still up for negotiations in the upcoming pre-construction meetings, Jones asserts that the funding will cover the entirety of the project. However, he did note that the county could reach into the $100,000 contingency funds should the need actually arise.
Jones noted that receiving the state funding would not have been possible without a major concerted effort. Pickens County Finance Director Faye Harvey in conjunction with state representatives Steve Gooch, Rick Jasperse, andChuck Payne worked alongside Emily Dunn on the State Board to make a last-minute push for state involvement to bring funds to relieve the citizens from such a major financial impact from this emergency.
Citizens of Pickens should begin seeing the repairs and construction beginning soon and in a matter of weeks, access through the entirety of Jones Mountain Road should be returned, if only a limited one lane access.
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GOVERNOR KEMP AND SRTA BOARD APPROVE $1.3 MILLION IN STATE GRANT FOR EMERGENCY AID TO PICKENS COUNTY
Funding allocated to address damage caused by rock slide on Jones Mountain Road
Governor Brian P. Kemp and the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) Board of Directors voted today to award $1.3 million in grant funding to Pickens County. The grant would come from the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank (GTIB) program for the emergency stabilization of Jones Mountain Road within Pickens County.
“We are grateful to Governor Kemp, the SRTA Board and staff for awarding these grants through the infrastructure bank program which are truly needed by local governments to help address much needed transportation improvements, such as the emergency situation that we are dealing with,” said Pickens County Commission Chairman Robert P. Jones.
The closure of Jones Mountain Road due to a rockslide has significantly impacted residents’ ability to get to and from work and school, receive much needed medical care and has restricted access to local businesses. This disruption to the county’s transportation system causing detours to alternate routes has already resulted in longer commute times for the traveling public.
Governor Kemp, Chair of the SRTA Board, worked with state and county leaders to facilitate the awarding of the grant during this emergency incident. “GTIB was created to serve as an additional funding resource to support government entities, particularly at the local level, in order to accelerate transportation project delivery”, stated Governor Kemp. “We are fortunate that the State of Georgia is in a sound fiscal position to provide transportation assistance for local governments when unforeseen circumstances hinder the safety and mobility of the traveling public and negatively impact businesses and communities.”
The County will receive $1.3 million in GTIB funds to supplement $500,000 in additional funding from GDOT and $100,000 from Pickens County to ensure that the area surrounding Jones Mountain Road is stable and safe for passage. This includes removing and clearing off any debris, repairing the damaged roadway, building out the shoulder to accommodate the guardrail, and securing the surrounding landscape to avoid future rock slides for the safety of the traveling public.
The total estimated project cost is $1.9 million.
About the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA)
SRTA is a state-level, independent Authority created to operate tolled transportation facilities within Georgia and acts as the transportation financing arm for the state. SRTA manages the collection of tolls on Georgia’s Express Lanes System through the use of Peach Pass; administers the Atlanta region’s vanpool program; and manages the Xpress regional commuter coach transit service. In 2017, SRTA combined with the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) to jointly provide the services of both state authorities. The GRTA Board of Directors oversees Developments of Regional Impact, air quality reporting and regional transportation plan approval.