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Bryan OKs $200,000 for interchange
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The Bryan County Board of Commissioners has decided how much money it can contribute toward the long-planned interchange project at I-95 and Belfast Siding Road.
During a called meeting Monday at  the County Administration Complex in Richmond Hill, the board voted 4-0 to contribute a maximum of $200,000 to the project. The action was part of an attempt to get a letter to the state Department of Transportation outlining how the county will help fund the interchange. Commissioner Steve Myers was absent.
“The keyword there is ‘maximum’ because it could be less than that,” Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said. “Our portion of it is to pay for the wetlands mitigation, and we have gotten some estimates that are less than that. But it’s not due until 2015, so that’s why that number is there.
“There may be some further help from some other avenues of revenues … but it’ll take a couple of years for all of that to come to fruition.”
Burnsed noted the urgency in approving the matter was to meet a Feb. 15 deadline to get the project on Georgia’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Project (STIP) list for the years 2014-2017.
The county’s contribution would be in addition to contributions by both the city of Richmond Hill and landowner Rayonier, County Administrator Ray Pittman said.
“The other commitment is from Rayonier, and their level of commitment for this first step is essentially $1.4 million plus 47 acres required for the right of way,” Pittman told the board. “The city of Richmond Hill is also voting (Tuesday) on whether they will also commit $200,000 maximum as well.”
Pittman told the board the money would not be spent until 2015 if the project is approved for the STIP list. Additionally, sending the letter and agreeing to make the contribution does not guarantee the project will happen, Burnsed said.
“There are no guarantees that it will be done — no guarantees we will have to spend this money. None of that is guaranteed,” Bursned said. “We can get on the STIP, but we know what’s going on at the federal level now and they may never fund this … if we want a shot at getting that interchange, this is our best opportunity.”
In other business, the board approved to apply for a permit extension for a dock permit at WaterWays Township. The permit was filed with the state Department of Natural Resources four and a half years ago, Pittman said, but the dock has not yet been built.
Applying for the extension gives WaterWays Township five additional years to build the dock, which, if built, could be accessed by anyone — not just WaterWays residents, Burnsed added.
The board also approved to allow the county staff to review and approve a bid for engineering services of up to $30,000 after a bid hearing Wednesday to build a backup well for the East Buckhead subdivision in South Bryan.
Pittman said the current well only supports 25 homes, and builders expect more than 25 homes to be built in the coming months. The backup well would provide water and fire protection for up to 1,000 homes and would be paid for by connection fees, Pittman said.

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