BROOKSVILLE — Millions of dollars in federal stimulus funds will start appearing in Hernando County in June to get road improvement projects, and the local economy, jump-started.
County commissioners this week approved the next step to begin work on miles of resurfacing projects and a $3.3 million project to widen, resurface and improve shoulders on Citrus Way.
"It's a good $8 million shot in our arm for the collector road program,'' county engineer Charles Mixson told commissioners. "They are all well-needed projects.''
Another $2 million worth of projects will be brought forward to commissioners in the weeks ahead, Mixson said. Those are projects to resurface North Avenue in Brooksville and resurface the Suncoast Parkway.
The county will pay the costs of the projects up front, then be reimbursed by the Florida Department of Transportation using federal stimulus dollars.
Hernando County has a long list of major road projects but federal and state transportation agencies wanted the money to go to projects that can be quickly started.
That led to some concerns at Tuesday's meeting.
For example, Commissioner Jeff Stabins wanted to know why Citrus Way, a rural road north of Brooksville, made the list while the much-more-heavily traveled Deltona Boulevard, which is in need of widening, did not.
Mixson said that, if it were up to him, he would have liked to see Deltona widened with this batch of federal money but, "we didn't get to pick.''
Commission Chairman Dave Russell said he urged the state to approve the Deltona project but the best he could get was a promise that the project would be considered if a second round of stimulus funding becomes available.
Without the federal money, Mixson said, there is no way that the county could afford to do these projects. Hernando has been spending between $2 million and $3 million a year for road work but the recent tough economic times have some projects falling behind.
"This gives us a good jump,'' he said. "It gets us back where we need to be.''
Mixson told commissioners that one benefit of the stimulus money is that he will be able to use the limited funds already dedicated to road improvements to move along other projects.
Some of the projects in line for the stimulus dollars are "mill and fill'' projects in which the contractor cuts up the existing asphalt and then reapplies asphalt so that the level of the roads with curbs doesn't rise. Work on Mariner Boulevard and Spring Hill Drive will use that technique.
On the other projects, roads will be resurfaced.
The projects are to be started by June 30 and completed by the end of 2012 but Mixson predicted the jobs will be done long before then.
While the money is allowing the county to accomplish multiple projects at once, he did not foresee major road backups or delays for lengthy periods of time because the projects are all fairly quick to accomplish.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.