The price of gas may not be budget friendly, but it is helping fund improvements in Forsyth County.
In the next couple years, Shiloh and McFarland roads will receive about 2.5 miles of new sidewalks, linking the county’s Big Creek Greenway and the Shiloh Farms subdivision, one of the county’s largest.
The work will be paid for in part through a $500,000 grant, which comes from $4.4 million in federal gas tax dollars that are funding a dozen projects in the 9th Congressional District.
“It’s just a good project,” said John Cunard, director of the county's engineering department. “I’m glad we’re finally able to get a grant to help us fund it.”
The Transportation Enhancement, or TE, program previously helped pay for the first phase of the greenway.
"[So] it made sense that we would chose a project that would attach to and expand on an existing TE project,” Cunard said.
Since it’s a federal government-funded project, he added that it likely will take a little longer to get started.
There are extra agreements that must be made before the designing phase can begin. While unexpected issues can crop up, a project of this type could take between 18 months and two years.
“We’re hoping maybe within a year from now we’ll be ready to go into construction,” he said. “Being a sidewalk project, we should be able to finish it within six months.”
The grant covers about $500,000 of the estimated $990,000 project cost and requires a 20 percent match from the county, which Cunard said shouldn’t be a problem.
Funding from the county’s end will come from sales tax revenue. Given the current economy, Cunard said construction costs are down, which means the county could end up contributing less.
“We’re getting really good construction costs these days. We may get such a good price on it we may only have a 20 percent match,” he said.
Even if it costs the full $490,000, Cunard said the project will be covered.
“You never want to turn down a half million dollars,” he said. “If you have to spend half a million to get half a million, I think it’s worth it.”