Stimulus to boost CR 40

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Cedar Key bridges will have to wait

By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus legislation is a lesson in trickle-down economics. From the billions set aside for transit programs, District 2 of the Florida Department of Transportation, which includes Levy County, will receive $44 million.

Levy County’s share: $1.179 million.

The money will be used to pave about 2.2 miles of County Road 40 in Inglis.

The reason: the road’s condition and it’s a project the District 2 engineers can have shovel ready within 120 days of the release of the highway funds — a requirement of the federal bill.

“It’s looking like March 10 we get the money and the clock starts ticking on the 120 days,” Jordan Greene of the DOT District 2 office said.

The choice of CR40 did not sit well with Levy Commission Chair Nancy Bell who said she preferred spending the money on Turkeytown Road, County Road 347.

“I have a problem with County Road 40,” Bell said “because that is the one that is going to be used by Progress Energy.” Bell noted that at one time Progress, which has proposed building a $16 billion, two-unit nuclear plant along CR40 had planned to haul in the heavy equipment by rail. But Progress now plans to bring it in by barge and along CR40 to the plant site, about two miles from Inglis.

Commissioner Danny Stevens said the county Road Department, which does the road evaluation, chose CR40 because of its current condition.

“Well, I just think we could give them a phone call and see how they feel,” Bell said. “They are a multi-million private industry and they are going to be using that road.”

Anne Bast Brown, who is spending the week attending certification hearings for the plant in Inglis and Crystal River, reminded the commissioners “There will come a time when they will have to pay impact fees.”

Commissioner Lilly Rooks pointed out the delegation from Cedar Key that was attending the Tuesday night workshop at the county courthouse to lobby for replacing worn out bridges that serve Cedar Key.

“They as well as I have citizens who come to them every day asking about those bridges,” she said.

“They’re not going away. We’re not going to forget about them,” Greene said.

“Our bridges are shovel ready,” said Cedar Key Commissioner Sue Colson, “They are ready to be shoveled out. “We’ll never be quick enough to be shovel ready.”

In another section of the bill there is $40 million notched for Florida for transit “enhancements” like sidewalks, bike paths and lighting.

And while there are 82 projects requested by the municipalities, towns and counties on the list, Greene said the only one that will be done is a bike and pedestrian path on Manatee Springs Road connecting the Manatee Springs State Park with the Nature Coast State Trail in Chiefland.

“It’s got to be something fairly simple and straightforward,” Greene said and they already own the property for the project.

He said the District is asking for $2.5 million for the project.

Greene said the funds may look small but he asked the elected officials to consider that District 2 is getting ready to put out 41 projects on the street in 120 days.

“That’s a lot of work,” he said. “And DOT will deliver that project (CR40) on your behalf.”