Commissioners accept state's $512K grant for county roads

Published on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 23:36 - Written by Adam Russell, arussell@tylerpaper.com

In preparation for increased attention toward county road projects, Smith County commissioners on Tuesday accepted more than $500,000 in state grant funding to address three projects.

The state awarded Smith County $512,000 from the County Transportation Infrastructure Fund. The county is required to match 20 percent of the grant amount, about $118,000.

Road and Bridge Department Administrator Doug Nicholson said County Road 2142, between Farm-to-Market 345 and Farm-to-Market 346 and County Road 413 betweenFarm-to-Market 724 and Texas Highway 64 are scheduled for complete overlays. County Road 313 will receive surface treatment to prolong the road’s life.

Projects are not expected to start until mid-October or spring 2015, depending on weather. The roads were slated as top priorities on the county’s road inventory, Nicholson said.

Road and Bridge will complete the overlays while the surface treatment project will be contracted out, Nicholson said

During the most recent legislative session, legislators approved $450 million for the Texas Department of Transportation and counties to pay for road projects to address roadway damages caused by oil and gas equipment. Half the funding goes directly to TxDOT, while $225 million is available to counties who apply. All 254 counties were eligible but not all applied, which increased the pot for those that applied.

Commissioners sought more than $430,000 initially. The county’s match will be included in the 2015 budget, Baker said.

The county also created a 10-year County Energy Reinvestment Zone to qualify for the money. The zone created would collect tax revenues on a tax increment basis within an area along County Road 2142, which would go toward transportation projects in the county

County Judge Joel Baker said the grant would help fund important projects with unexpected money.

“That’s a win for Smith County,” he said. “These are projects that needed to be done anyway and now we have money coming from the state.”