Butler County staying in ATRIP

Published 4:17 pm Friday, December 14, 2012

After considering entering another road funding program, the Butler County Commission voted Monday to stay with the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program.

In February, Gov. Robert Bentley unveiled ATRIP, which seeks to provide counties and cities with money to resurface and rehabilitate roads with federal funds totaling nearly $1 billion.

Only certain roads and bridges qualify for the funding, and city and county governments must provide a 20 percent match for approved projects. 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.

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As cities and counties began to apply for ATRIP funds, government officials began to notice that the state’s poorer counties could not afford the 20 percent match.

That realization led to the creation of the Rural Assistance Match Program as an alternative – one that would pay for local government’s matching portions.

Under RAMP, counties would be guaranteed to receive $4 million in federal funding. To help counties pay for the $1 million (20 percent) required for the federal funds, state Sen. Paul Bussman and state Rep. Mac McCutcheon will propose legislation in 2013 to sell bonds utilizing future state gasoline tax receipts, according to a press release issued by the Alabama Department of Transportation.

If counties choose to take part in RAMP, they will no longer be eligible to receive ATRIP funds. However, if a county does choose to stay with ATRIP, there is no guarantee that its projects will be awarded grant money.

Butler County has applied for $6.1 million in project funding in ATRIP’s second phase. The county has submitted projects for County Road 50 (Honoraville Road) and County Road 37 (Gravel Hill Road) along with a 20-mile project on County Road 59 (Halso Mill Road) and County Road 45 (McKenzie Grade Road) and a bridge replacement project on Peavy Road.

In ATRIP’s first phase, Butler County was awarded $321,792.96 for improvements to a bridge on County Road 53 that spans a tributary of Patsaliga Creek. 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.

“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.”

Since the county voted to stay with ATRIP, all cities inside the county are bound to stay with that program, the release said.

The City of Georgiana has applied for an ATRIP grant that if awarded would provide funds for paving West Mill Street from the city limits to the bypass, from the bypass to the railroad tracks and from the railroad tracks to South Palmer Avenue.

Georgiana’s 20 percent match would be $172,857.

The Town of McKenzie declined to apply for ATRIP funds do to the required 20 percent match.

The second phase of projects is scheduled to be announced this month.