Bentley announces $139 million in Alabama road projects

Published 8:51 am Friday, June 1, 2012

Gov. Robert Bentley announced on Thursday 105 road and bridge improvement projects throughout the state, including a project in Butler County, which will now be able to move forward thanks to the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP).

Butler County will receive $321,792.96 for improvements to a bridge on County Road 53 that spans a tributary of Patsaliga Creek.

“This project will replace a weight-restricted bridge with a new structure,” Butler County Engineer Dennis McCall said.   “Landowners and industries associated with the transport of timber will be the primary beneficiaries of this project.”

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Butler County Commission Chairman Jesse McWilliams said the replacement is much needed.

“This is something that’s greatly needed,” McWilliams said. “We’re very excited that we got this project approved. It doesn’t help us with the nearly 400 miles of roads that we can’t get government funding to repair, but it certainly helps us improve our roadways.”

The county will be required to put up $80,448.24 in matching funds. The total cost of the project is expected to be $402,241.20.

“Any time we can get money for 20 cents on the dollar, we have to take advantage of that,” McWilliams said.

ATRIP is the largest road and bridge improvement program in Alabama’s history. A driving force behind the program is improving roadway safety throughout the state.

“From large cities to rural areas, the people of this state deserve reliable, safe roads and bridges,” Bentley said. “School buses should not have to be detoured around substandard bridges. Communities need help improving roads that are currently over capacity or in need of various safety improvements.”

Officials also hope the program will serve as an economic development tool for the state.

According to Bentley, updated roads and bridges will help the state recruit additional jobs from companies that depend on a modern, solid infrastructure to transport goods.

“Companies depend on updated roads and bridges to help them safely conduct business and make deliveries,” Bentley said. “As we improve our infrastructure, we will improve the business climate in the state and make Alabama more attractive to businesses seeking to locate here and bring additional jobs.”

The ATRIP program was first unveiled in February. Cities and counties across the state then submitted project proposals for the initial round of funding.  ATRIP applications were analyzed by the Alabama Department of Transportation. Eligible projects were reviewed by an advisory committee, which, in conjunction with Bentley, made the final project funding decisions.

There were applications representing 64 of Alabama’s 67 counties, with at least one project from 61 counties approved in the first phase of funding. Every eligible applicant received at least one project. At least two additional rounds of funding are planned, one in fall 2012 and one in spring 2013. Projects not selected in the initial phase of funding are eligible for submission during the second and third phases.

Projects approved in ATRIP’s first phase of funding range from rural to urban and include resurfacing, additional lanes, intersection upgrades, and 36 local bridge replacements. The 105 projects announced Thursday represent $138.5 million in funding during the initial round of ATRIP.

Funding for ATRIP comes through the use of Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles Bonds (GARVEE). Through the use of GARVEE bonds, Alabama is able to access future federal dollars now in order to pay for road and bridge projects that are needed immediately.

“By using GARVEE bonds, we are able to make much-needed improvements without raising taxes,” Bentley said. “In addition, this program will create construction jobs across the state as projects move forward, and by making areas more attractive to prospective employers, the ATRIP program will help with the long-term recruitment of even more jobs in the future.”