Macon, Bibb compile project lists for stimulus money

At least $444.5 million in projects in Macon and Bibb County could be considered for funding if Congress passes a multi-billion dollar economic stimulus package.

The city of Macon, Bibb County and the Macon Water Authority have compiled wish lists of projects that possibly could receive federal funding if the proposed stimulus package passes the House of Representatives and the Senate. Local roads projects also were included on the Georgia Department of Transportation’s list.

The lists were developed as Congress considers an $825 billion economic stimulus package meant to boost the economy and create jobs through government spending and tax cuts.

Government spending would include construction and infrastructure improvements, specifically in the areas of transportation, energy and education, according to the legislation, which was formally introduced Monday in the U.S. House.

Georgia could receive more than $5.8 billion in federal funds during the next two years if Congress passes the measure — the result of agreements worked out between House Democratic leaders and the Obama administration.

The bulk of that figure is nearly $2 billion to help offset the state’s budget shortfall, which is about $2.2 billion in fiscal 2009 alone, and $1.3 billion to be used for infrastructure investments, according to information from U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall’s office.

Some of that money could go to local projects, although exactly how much and to which projects has yet to be determined. The state likely would determine that, said Doug Moore, communications director for Marshall, D-Macon. There will be no earmarks, he said.

In the meantime, Marshall has asked governments in his district to provide a list of projects they would like to see receive funding.

“We’ll be working with these communities to help them apply for the funds,” Moore said.

The emphasis is on projects that are “shovel ready,” that is, ready to go as soon as they receive the money, he said.

“We’ve got things well suited for that,” said Ray Shell, assistant executive director for the Macon Water Authority.

Local projects and their costs vary widely, from the city of Macon’s $50,000 hope for landscaping improvements at Bowden, Felton and Anthony homes to the Georgia Department of Transportation’s $90.3 million desire for widening Interstate 75 from Pierce Avenue to Arkwright Road.

“Counties are turning in hundreds of million of dollars in projects,” said Steve Layson, Bibb’s chief administrative officer.

Wish list projects in Macon and Bibb County include:

Ÿ Bridge replacement at Fulton Mill and Peake roads ($3 million combined);

Ÿ Rehabilitation of the Bibb County Courthouse and construction of a new courthouse ($86 million combined);

Ÿ Creation of a 20-acre recreation complex at the former Durr’s Lake property ($5 million);

Ÿ Construction of a new Macon Transit Authority bus fleet maintenance facility ($4 million);

Ÿ Installation of energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems for Bibb County schools ($15.2 million);

Ÿ Stormwater drainage system replacement and repairs ($3 million); and

Ÿ Installation of a new sanitary sewer between the Macon Water Authority’s Lenox Drive and Corbin Avenue lift stations ($4 million).

President Obama said last week that the bill, called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, is on track to pass by President’s Day, according to The Associated Press. President’s Day is Feb. 16.

Obama has urged bipartisan support for the package, which many Republican lawmakers say is too costly and focuses too much on long-range projects that won’t give the economy the jump start it needs.

To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 744-4345.