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City hopes for second chance for grant

Plans are in the works to obtain funding for a major road project in Troy.

As part of the federal stimulus package, the Department of Transportation has been soliciting applications for the second phase of the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant Program.

According to Mayor Jimmy Lunsford, the city of Troy looks to make a good case to obtain some of those funds.

“We feel this project meets the TIGER grant criteria,” he said.

“We need to make sure they see that in Washington.”

Lunsford said at least one of Pike County’s own representatives in the nations capital would help show it.

“Congressman (Bobby) Bright is very supportive of the project,” he said.

“He has assured us he will give every effort of his office.”

That support is shared by a number of municipal leaders in the region who have agreed the undertaking would be the best one for the Second Congressional District.

The project would involve road expansions and improvements spanning east and west connecting George Wallace Drive at Charles Henderson High School, to the intersection of Highway 29 and U.S. Highway 231.

In an initial proposal, McKinley Drive, which currently winds through the former Trojan Oaks Golf Course, would be expanded to a four-lane roadway.

Lunsford said preservation of oak trees along the route would be a priority.

“We would want the oak trees that parallel the road now to be part of the median,” he said.

At the lagoon on the campus of Troy University, a two-lane roundabout would be constructed.

From west of the lagoon, the entirety of Madison Street would be widened to three lanes, with a makeover of the South Brundidge Street intersection.

From there, Montgomery Street would be improved as well, although it would remain a standard two-lane road.

Lunsford said sidewalks would border the thoroughfare throughout.

“We want to encourage walking traffic in the city,” he said.

Additionally, the sidewalks could be one of many contributing factors, that help give the city priority in grant selection as the DOT has set out a number of criteria that carry importance in the awarding of TIGER grants.

Sidewalk construction would comply with some of those measures, such as improving safety in Troy’s transportation system.

Lunsford addressed other benefits associated with the project.

“One criterion for applying for funds for the TIGER grant is economic development,” he said.

“We are showing the number of jobs being created by CGI and the University.”

Since the corridor would service those entities, they can be used to illustrate the city’s potential for constructive use of the grant.

“The TIGER Grant further states that you have to have addressed all the environmental concerns,” Lunsford said.

In response, the city will show that plans for the road do not disturb existing trees or the lagoon, and the improved efficiency of the city’s road system could help reduce emissions.

Potential developments would also have to satisfy time constraints.

“We must be able to complete the project in 24 months,” Lunsford said.

To prove the city could finish in the required time, planners had to avoid routes or improvements that would potentially cause disputes with landowners and other stakeholders, so existing roadways constitute most of the route.

But Lunsford said improvements to that route are much needed.

“This gives our city an east-west corridor,” he said.

The city will be requesting $10 million dollars from the TIGER Grant Program for the corridor, which will be a part of a larger city project that includes improvements on South Brundidge Street.

The total amount available through the program is $1.6 billion, and the city will know if it gets a cut in mid-September.

With approval, the work would be estimated to be completed by September 2012.