City gets money for street projects

Tom Joyce Staff Reporter

October 16, 2013

Streets in Mount Airy will become a little smoother due to an allocation of funds by the N.C. Department of Transportation.

The DOT has announced that the city will receive a total of $331,889 in annual Powell Bill money, including a $165,945 allocation this month.

While major routes through town are on the state highway system, and thus maintained by the DOT, the Powell Bill funding goes to Mount Airy and other municipalities to be used to build or maintain local streets that are their responsibility.

The money that comes from revenues generated by the state gas tax and other highway user fees is used in Mount Airy for resurfacing or widening streets, along with sidewalk work and street maintenance.

Jeff Boyles, the city’s public services director, said Tuesday that a need has been identified for the Powell Bill funds.

“We are planning to do some resurfacing in late spring or early summer (of next year) and we’re still evaluating which streets that we will work on,” Boyles said, declining to identify any likely candidates.

“There’s several and I don’t want to mislead anybody,” he said.

Typically, the municipality accumulates Powell Bill funds from year to year to provide money for major work.

That was the case in 2011 when the city approved a $261,080 paving project for the annexed Hollyview Forest neighborhood.

In 2008, eight Mount Airy streets were resurfaced under a $295,097 paving contract using Powell Bill revenues.

“Hopefully, we will do something of a similar size this year,” Boyles said of the 2013-2014 allocation.

Overall, the N.C. Department of Transportation will be distributing more than $145.6 million in Powell Bill funds to 507 municipalities across the state.

The total each receives is based on a formula set by the N.C. General Assembly. The formula requires 75 percent of the funds to be awarded based on population, while the remaining 25 percent are based on the number of street miles each community maintains.

Since the Powell Bill program began in 1951, more than $3.7 billion has been allocated to municipalities.

It is named for Junius K. Powell, a former state senator and mayor of Whiteville, whose name led a list of legislators sponsoring a bill to help the state’s cities with urban road problems. The first allocation of Powell Bill funds was in 1951 for $4.5 million and was distributed to 386 cities and towns.

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