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    Highways: Intersection projects atop state's stimulus funds list

    By Jackie R. Broach
    Coastal Observer

    Two Waccamaw Neck road projects rank near the top of the state’s list of those to be completed with federal stimulus funds.

    Adding a left-turn lane to Waverly Road at Highway 17 ranked second on the list. The realignment of the intersection of Sandy Island Road and Trace Drive at Highway 17 ranked third.

    The intersection of Front Street and Highway 17 in Georgetown also made the list at number five.

    Projects that qualify for the federal money have to be “shovel-ready” and able to be under construction by February, so the stimulus funding is an incentive to get the projects done as quickly as possible.

    But the main benefit is that funding from the Grand Strand Transportation Study’s budget will be freed up for projects that didn’t make the list before, said Mark Hoeweler, planning director for Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments.

    “The more we have qualify for stimulus funding, the more money we have come back into our account for use in the GSATS area,” he said.

    The state Department of Transportation reviewed 800 projects submitted for funds and narrowed the list to just over 50. Ten of those are on the Grand Strand study’s list. The policy committee will have to amend its transportation improvement program and revise its priorities.

    And there’s no time to waste, said Danny Isaac, the local DOT commissioner.

    “We’ve got some money and now what we’ve got to decide is how do we leverage this money to get the absolute maximum bang for our buck,” Isaac said. “You’ve got some projects that just need a little bump in funding, so you can go ahead and get them off the table. You’ve got to look and decide what those projects are.”

    Isaac told the committee he would like to have a decision from them by the end of this week and be back in Columbia next week.

    “Time is of the essence,” Isaac said. “I feel like a lot of states won’t make the deadline and this is a use it or lose it thing.”

    The Economic Recovery Act gives South Carolina $463 million to spend on roads, DOT officials told the policy committee last week. The act requires that 30 percent of the stimulus funds for highways go for local projects.

    The money will be distributed by congressional district. The 1st District will get $17.7 million, plus $14 million earmarked for Charleston.

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