Neighbors on Simmons-McIntyre Road, a remote dirt road in Decatur County, were happy to learn this week that their road will be paved as part of a $500,000 grant Decatur County commissioners recently received from the State of Georgia.
If you’ve ever driven from Bainbridge to Tallahassee, Simmons-McIntyre is the last road on the right as you travel south toward the Georgia-Florida state line.
Although there’s several homes and a church on the road, it’s never been paved and it’s practically difficult for the county’s Public Works department to do major improvements to the road because it’s 22 miles away from Public Works headquarters.
Decatur County Commissioner Frank Loeffler, who worked for Decatur County Schools in the 1980s, recalled how difficult it was to send buses to pick up children on Simmons-McIntyre Road after there had been heavy rain, in large part due to the area’s low elevation.
Farrell Lawrence, current transportation director for Decatur County Schools, said those issues continue today and asked for citizens’ patience when the widening and paving work on Simmons-McIntyre Road begins.
“When all the road paving equipment is parked on Simmons-McIntyre, it’s going to feel kind of cramped for a bit,” Lawrence said. “We’ll have to be extra careful with the buses but we’ll get them in there.”
Approximately 20 citizens turned out to the early morning ribbon cutting for the upcoming road project, and clapped as county officials talked about the improvements that would be made. Others present included County Commissioner-elect George Anderson, who will represent the Attapulgus area starting in January 2015, County Public Works employees, Decatur County Administrator Gary Breedlove, Decatur County Public Works Director Dennis Medley and Suzanne Brandt, director of environmental services for Decatur County.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded the funding to Georgia’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which is administered by the Department of Community Affairs (DCA).
As part of the 2014 CDBG program, 71 Georgia communities will receive almost $35.8 million in Community Development Block Grants for infrastructure improvements, neighborhood revitalization and centers that will serve Georgia’s neediest citizens. In addition, $3.9 million in CDBG Employment Incentive Program (EIP) funding was recently awarded to 11 Georgia communities to invest in redevelopment and economic development projects that are creating 1,172 jobs and $316.6 million in private investment.
Community Development Block Grant 2014 Recipients (PDF)
How would a Dirt Road be deemed necessary to pave? Sharber Road was listed as a road to be paved in our local newspaper back in 2008 and it was never heard of again.
I am speaking unofficially but in my understanding, they generally select projects based on how many people it will serve and how bad the condition of the road is.
In the case of Carter’s Mill Road and Simmons-McIntyre Road, both of which were done as part of state government CDBG grants, the following requirements apply:
“Over a 1, 2, or 3-year period, as selected by the grantee, not less than 70 percent of CDBG funds must be used for activities that benefit low- and moderate-income persons. In addition, each activity must meet one of the following national objectives for the program: benefit low- and moderate-income persons, prevention or elimination of slums or blight, or address community development needs having a particular urgency because existing conditions pose a serious and immediate threat to the health or welfare of the community for which other funding is not available.”
It might be a good idea to contact your county commissioner or the Decatur County Commissioners’ Office at 248-3030 and let them know about Sharber Road. Gathering a petition from residents on your road might also help.