The U.S. Department of Transportation announced last month that it would release $473 million in unspent earmarks, making the money immediately available to states for projects that will create jobs and improve transportation.
Cobb Department of Transportation Director Faye DiMassimo said that will add up to about $11 million in Georgia. But she said the projects are expected to be “shovel ready,” as in ready to begin construction.
“At this point, we don’t see anything with that particular funding opportunity that is ready to go,” she said.
The future of transportation funding in Cobb, and elsewhere in the Atlanta area, has been in question since the TSPLOST 1 percent sales tax referendum failed on July 31 in a 10-county region. The 10-year tax would have funded nearly $1 billion in transportation projects in Cobb, with $689 million of that going toward an “enhanced premium transit” line connecting the Cumberland Mall area with Midtown Atlanta.
Cobb, in conjunction with its cities and the Cumberland Community Improvement District, has made an application with the Atlanta Regional Commission, as part of the agency’s “call for projects,” DiMassimo said. The list includes 28 projects totaling more than $33 million.
But city officials say the projects they’ve applied for are already funded or on the back-burner.
ARC plans to release a total of $87.5 million in federal funds for fiscal year 2014 transportation improvements in its 18-county region in October, spokesman Jim Jaquish said. Those numbers include a 20 percent match the municipality would be required to pay.
“We’re looking at all the submissions from all the local governments, and determining which projects will be on the list,” Jaquish said.
While funding is available for improvements that would help move freight, improve road safety and make transportation for bicycles and pedestrians easier, Jaquish said no money for transit would be available in this round of funding.
“We’ll work through that with transit providers in the future,” he said.
The highest priority project the city of Acworth submitted was upgrading five railroad crossings at a cost of $872,500. Mayor Tommy Allegood said the upgrades are part of an effort to make the crossings safer, so they can be converted to silent crossings.
But the upgrades, as well as the two other projects Acworth submitted to ARC with the county, are already paid for as part of Acworth’s 2011 SPLOST project list, Allegood said.
“They’ve already got the funding in place,” Allegood said. “This will ensure that our SPLOST dollars go further.”
Allegood said the money set aside for the SPLOST projects would then be reallocated to different transportation needs. He said specific transportation projects have yet to be identified.
Powder Springs community development director Pam Conner said the city is performing an update to some of its plans and may end up wanting to do the projects it submitted to ARC.
“They’re in the process of looking at the five-year update and trying to determine if this is something we really want to continue, or if it there something else that should go on the list and take those off,” Conner said.
The top project on Powder Springs’ list is $1.2 million in intersection improvements at Oglesby and Brownsville roads, along with a park-and-ride lot along Highway 278.
Powder Springs could end up giving money back or asking if it can reallocate the funds for other projects that are deemed more of a priority, should funding become available, Conner said.
“This was from past plans,” Conner said. “It may not be something that they may not feel is feasible or in the best interest of the city anymore.”
Other projects that Cobb County submitted as top priorities for federal funding from ARC include $844,000 for pedestrian and bicycle improvements on Powers Ferry Road in the Cumberland CID, a $487,520 bike route to student housing at Kennesaw State University and $558,774 for intersection improvements at Atlanta Street and South Marietta Parkway in Marietta.