WASHINGTON COUNTY, Fla (WMBB) — The future of a number of FEMA-funded road projects in Washington County is in limbo.
County commissioners held an emergency meeting this morning to discuss how to handle an approaching deadline.
Washington County officials have until Oct. 10 to complete more than 20 road projects or face losing their FEMA funding.
The projects are nowhere near completion. The county requested an extension from FEMA back in March, but haven’t heard anything.
So Tuesday, commissioners decided to shut down work until FEMA grants the county more time.
They instructed the project manager with wheeler management consultants to put the projects in mothballs by their next meeting on Oct. 19.
“I think all our Hurricane Michael applicants are optimistic that FEMA’s not going to decline this time extension. But it’s a tough, tough decision,” said Wheeler Management Project Manager Jason Gilmore.
Washington County officials say they have used $80 million worth of FEMA funding and they’re only halfway completed with the road projects.
“In the past. It’s not been to this extent. The money that’s being spent now is much more than what was being spent before. With it being paving. So, the expense we’re looking at is certainly more than what we would be able to take care of,” said County Clerk Lora Bell.
The work stoppage was not a popular decision with residents.
“You guys are faced with this decision two days before a deadline. That’s a failure on both parts, and that’s pretty obvious,” said Washington County resident Benita Crittendon.
“Actually, shutting down road projects. That means demobilizing equipment which costs the contractor and then re-mobilizing if that comes to fruition. But they put themselves in this own boat by some poor judgment,” said Washington County resident James Brooks.
Even one of their own staff members expressed some frustrations.
“The blame game goes to the people that make the decision,” said Public Works Director Johnny Evans.
All five county commissioners refused our requests for comment.
Projects to be put on hold:
Armstrong Mill Road
Boynton Cutoff Road
Cedar Tree Landing Rd
Charlie Brown Road
Jackson Community Rd
Live Oak Landing Rd
Pine Log Landing Rd
Potter Springs Rd
Spring Run Road
Two Creek Blvd
Ward Place Road
Goodman Hill Rd
Hidden Praire Dr
Orange Hill Rd