The Georgia Department of Transportation sent out a news release on Tuesday announcing that it had awarded the contract for the widening and reconstruction of Mars Hill Road to G.P.’s Enterprises Inc. of Auburn, Ga.
The announcement was not a surprise, as G.P.’s Enterprises Inc. was the low bidder among the four companies that had submitted bids. It also had received the contract for the work on the Oconee Connector Extension back in 2009.
From GDOT Download
What was new in the GDOT press release was a statement from Athens real estate broker Jamie Boswell, who represents Oconee County on the Georgia State Transportation Board, thanking the Board for borrowing the money to move forward with the project.
“Advancing this project through the use of state funds means that the citizens that use this busy roadway will not have to wait any longer for work to begin on the much needed improvements and widening of the corridor,” Boswell is quoted in the news release as saying.
Federal Funds On Hold
The state decided to borrow money for road projects because of problems with federal funding through the Highway Trust Fund.
As of today, President Barack Obama has not yet signed the legislation passed by the U.S. House and Senate on July 31 providing enough funds for the Highway Trust Fund to keep the program running through May 2015, though he is expected to do so.
The federal Highway Trust fund is the source of much of the state funding for highway projects.
“I am very pleased with the steps taken by the Department to keep this important project moving forward,” Boswell said in the GDOT news release. “Knowing that the project was in danger due to the lack of Federal funds, the STB took action and authorized the sale of bonds to ensure that significant projects like the Oconee Connector would not be delayed.”
STB is the state Transportation Board, on which Boswell sits as representative of the 10th Congressional District, which includes Oconee and surrounding counties.
The first part of the roadway to be improved is an extension of the Oconee Connector.
Boswell Group has a large number of listing in and around the SR 316 and Oconee Connector area.
County Administrative Officer Jeff Benko had told the Oconee County Board of Commissioners and the public at the July 29 BOC meeting that G.P.’s had been awarded the contract on July 18.
In fact, that was the date the bids were opened.
The press release from Teri N. Pope, communication officer from the GDOT office in Gainesville, did not indicate when the decision had been made to award the contract to G.P.’s.
G.P.’s Enterprises Inc. of Auburn bid $26.4 million for the project. Other bidders were C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. Inc. of Winterville ($29.5 million), E.R. Snell Contractor Inc. of Snellville ($30.8 million), and CMES Inc. of Lilburn ($31.5 million).
Details of News Release
The GDOT news release says that widening and reconstruction of Mars Hill Road from SR 316 to Hog Mountain Road will improve “mobility locally in Watkinsville and for the region in to and out of Clarke County.”
|Bridge Built In 1944 |
The new road will have four 12-feet-wide lanes and 20-feet-wide grassy medians, according to the release.
It will include a bike lane and sidewalk in each direction.
As part of the project, a new bridge will be built over Barber Creek, replacing the existing bridge built in 1944, according to the release.
The contract completion date for this 3.3 mile long project is March 31, 2018, the release states. Construction is expected to begin this fall.
Short Term Patch
The House and the Senate have been struggling to reach agreement on funding for the Highway Trust Fund.
Last month, the House passed H.R. 5021 – the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014--and sent it to the Senate.
The Senate voted to add $8 billion to the $11 billion House bill and to extend the program through Dec. 19.
The House rejected the amendments made by the Senate.
The Senate then voted to approve the House version.
Boswell On Board
Jamie Boswell has been one of 14 representatives on the State Transportation Board since early 2013, having been appointed to the five-year term in a secret ballot by state legislators.
Boswell Properties LCC is one of three companies that make up the Boswell Group. The other two are Boswell Appraisal Services LLC, and Boswell Insurance Group LLC.
Jamie Boswell is listed on the web site as the owner and broker for the real estate division and the owner, broker and appraisal manager for the appraisal division.
The offices for the Boswell Group are at 788 Prince Avenue in Athens.