Work is finished on an extensive paving project at Lake Lanier parks and campgrounds, the biggest of three improvement projects in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ first use of federal road dollars.
All that remains is “some minor fixes and the striping, said Timothy A. Rainey, operations project manager at Lake Lanier.
“Those probably will not be finished until it gets warmer,” likely spring, he added.
Lanier got the money as part of the Federal Lands Transportation Program, which is providing some $300 million for projects to improve access on federal lands.
The program is part of the federal Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21, the government’s 27-month transportation spending bill passed in July 2012 by Congress.
The National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service were designated to receive $270 million for ongoing programs. The remaining $30 million was split among the corps, and the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service, which also are getting federal transportation funding for the first time.
Nearly $1.9 million was parceled out for Lanier.
The corps chose to test the dollars in its South Atlantic Division based on several factors, including project needs, visitation numbers and economic impact.
Ryan Hartwig, recreation program manager for the Atlanta-based South Atlantic Division, said in September, “You have to be a high performer in accordance with those guidelines, and Lake Lanier, being a metro lake, meets those criteria.”
Paving took place at Bolding Mill campground and day use, Duckett Mill campground and day use, Bald Ridge Campground, Old Federal Campground and day use, and Little Ridge day use.
Going into the endeavor, the corps was hoping for good results with the money.
“That’s why we focused on Lanier, just because the proof (is) in the pudding,” Hartwig said. “High exposure should (result in) a good product. We’ll see how this competes out in future years.”
State and local officials have expressed concerns about future federal funding.
MAP-21 provides funding through most of 2014. However, in an April report, the Congressional Budget Office said the “current trajectory of the Highway Trust Fund is unsustainable” and that starting in fiscal year 2015, “the trust fund will have insufficient amounts to meet all of its obligations, resulting in steadily accumulating shortfalls.”
“Assuming they (reauthorize), we still, at Lanier, would be in a good spot to get some (money),” Rainey said. “I would fear, though, because we just got some, they might want to give it elsewhere.”