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The North Carolina Department of Transportation is distributing more than $143.1 million in state street aid to municipalities, also known as Powell Bill funds, to 509 municipalities statewide.

The initial allocation, or half the total, was distributed this week. The other half will be paid by January 1.

Roanoke Rapids is slated to receive a total of $414,124.92 with an October allocation of $207,062.46, according to DOT.

(A PDF containing additional information and allocation amounts may be found by following this link)

Roanoke Rapids Public Works Director Larry Chalker said the city uses the funds for street maintenance.

The funds will be used for replacing defective curbs and gutters, repairing defective driveway aprons, and the repair and maintenance of storm drainage systems including pipes, catch basins and ditches.

It is also used for the repair of potholes, street signs and the three traffic signals which are owned by the city.

The operation of the city’s street sweeper is paid for through these funds.

“We track all of the work we will do and we will do more work than we have Powell Bill funding for,” Chalker said. 

But, he said, “Any dollars from any state or federal agency are going to assist us to better maintain our street system. It will aid in working with what we’ve got. We’re having to patch more and make it through until we get money available for street resurfacing which is a bigger line item.”

Chalker said in budget talks for the next fiscal year he plans to ask the city council for street resurfacing funding.

“Powell Bill funding makes many critical transportation improvements possible for communities from the mountains to the coast,” said state transportation Secretary Eric Boyette. “Municipalities can use these funds on a variety of projects that make North Carolina an even better place to live and work.”   

The Powell Bill funds are used primarily to resurface municipal streets but can also be used to maintain, repair, construct or widen streets, bridges and drainage areas. Municipalities can also use Powell Bill funds to plan, construct and maintain bike paths, greenways or sidewalks.  

The amount each municipality receives is based on a formula set by the North Carolina General Assembly, with 75 percent of the funds based on population, and 25 percent based on the number of locally-maintained street miles. 

The fund is named for Junius K. Powell, a former state senator and mayor of Whiteville. 

Powell was the primary sponsor of the 1951 bill that helped the state's cities with urban road problems. The first allocation of Powell Bill funds was for $4.5 million and was distributed to 386 cities and towns.