Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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FDOT's Petithomme Enlightens Planning Council on Fed Funds for Hometown Projects

Roosevelt Petithomme explains the availability of Fed funds for hometown projects at the NCFRPC.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL– Last night, the attendees at the North Central Florida Planning Council's (NCFRPC) monthly meeting were enlightened by FDOT's Roosevelt Petithomme as he explained the availability of Federal funds for local government controlled projects for environmental mitigation and community improvement.

The Planning Council's Executive Director, Scott Koons, explained that FDOT's Roosevelt Petithomme was at the meeting to encourage more participation in the agency's Local Area Program.

Mr. Petithomme told the Council, "It's been a long time coming that the Florida Department of Transportation has wanted to speak to you about this program."

More about the NCFRPC is here.

Mr. Petithomme continued, "The Local Agency Program (LAP) is an opportunity for cities and counties to expand federal aid funding into the development of various projects."

Quality of Life Improvement Funds Available

Mr. Petithomme got everyone's attention as he explained the projects were for environmental mitigation and community improvement activities, popular local level projects that improve the quality of life.

The projects are submitted to the FDOT by local governments. "The projects are developed by your particular agency, as opposed to being developed by the FDOT," he said.

Patricia Patterson (file)

Commissioner Patricia Patterson of Taylor County said Taylor County is looking for funds for a sidewalk so the "kids can walk to school."

Mr. Petithomme said that is the kind of project FDOT is looking to fund.

Your reporter asked if FDOT funds bike paths.

"Absolutely. If you have a project need, be it environmental stormwater run-off issues, bike paths, sidewalks, scenic projects – this is the program that's appropriate for funding those particular projects. Your city and county engineers get to control and shape the project, as opposed to having DOT deliver the project," he said.

LAP 2014: funding on completed projects. FDOT District 2 in last place.              (FDOT graphic)

Mr. Petithomme explained that funding has been provided for train depot restorations. "There is a huge opportunity to develop projects that are near and dear to your heart that traditionally would not be done unless they went through the traditional DOT mechanism."

Mr. Petithomme said that the rural communities in District 2 are "missing out on tremendous opportunities."

Mr. Petithomme said, "Historically the FDOT, within this district, has not had the dedicated staff for this program. My sole job is to make this program a success. I've worked in Tallahassee's central office where I managed this program, statewide. I am probably the second most knowledgeable person about this program in the state. Our region has a tremendous opportunity: I know where the pitfalls are. I know how to get through the nooks and crannies to make our region successful."

He continued, "Less that 30% of our counties participate in the program. Within the last six months we've had commitments from Taylor County, Madison County, Suwannee, Nassau, and Hamilton to participate in the program. They are now first in line for the expenditure of the Federal funds."

Columbia County icon and former Columbia County commissioner, James Montgomery, asked about Columbia County's participation in the program.

Mr. Petithomme answered, "No. We really want Columbia County to participate in the program. We've not been able to engage in a conversation that has been able to bring Columbia County onboard."

Mr. Petithomme encouraged the rural counties of DOT District 2 to participate.

He said, "We want to spend every Federal penny that's given to us, as opposed to having to return Federal funds back to the Federal Government.

Mr. Petithomme can be reached at (386) 758-3759; (800) 749-2967; roosevelt.petithomme@dot.state.fl.us.

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