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August 18, 2009

Athens, Limestone seeing benefits of stimulus funds

Athens will spend its share of federal economic-stimulus money to extend a city walking trail.

Limestone County will spend its share by improving a bridge, helping create an events center, improving energy efficiency in county buildings, linking county computers via fiber-optic cable and buying video equipment for use by law-enforcement officials.

The money for both governments comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The act, approved by Congress in February, set aside $787 billion to stimulate the economy in the wake of the recent downturn. It includes federal tax cuts, expansion of unemployment benefits and other social-welfare provisions along with domestic spending on education, health care and infrastructure — such as paving, and on energy savings. Alabama is set to receive about $3.31 million of the total.

Athens recently received $384,725 to extend the walking trail along Forrest Street, according to Public Works Director James Rich, who applied for the money.

The trail will connect the U.S. 31 walking trail at Forrest Street to the Swan Creek Trail and will parallel Forrest to the intersection of Lindsay Lane, then go south along Lindsay to Eastside Junction, where Publix and other businesses are located.

Work on the nearly two-mile concrete, asphalt and gravel trail may begin after the first of the year, Rich said.

“The plans were submitted to the DOT in June, and we are waiting for the DOT to provide us with the plan review and, hopefully, start the bidding process in October, unless we need right of way,” he said.

To get the grant money, the city has to pay a 20 percent match or about $76,945.

Limestone County Commission Chairman David Seibert said he is not sure how much the county will receive until it receives the checks, however, he does have some estimates:

• $300,000 in road money to improve a county bridge;

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