County designates ATRIP projects

Published 3:27 pm Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Butler County was awarded $4.5 million in late July during the third and final phase of the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP).

And while the money was certainly welcomed, it left county officials with some tough decisions.

In the first two rounds of the program, specific projects were designated to receive the funds. In the third round of the program, Gov. Robert Bentley’s office did not specify which projects should be funded with the money allocated to municipalities.

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Since the funds were allocated to the county, the Butler County Commission was tasked with the final say on where the money should be spent.

On Monday, the commission approved a spending plan for the $4.5 million, including allocating $1.2 million to the City of Greenville and $105,000 to the City of Georgiana.

“Everyone in Butler County deserves to have a good road to travel,” Commissioner Frank Hickman said. “At the same time, it makes sense to use population density and traffic counts to determine what would benefit the greatest amount of people. When you have limited funds like we do, you have to spend your dollars in a way that benefits the most people possible.”

The commission voted to use the money to fund seven resurfacing projects throughout the county.

Those projects include resurfacing South Shacklesville Road from Hwy. 10 to the county line; Ebeneser Road from Hwy. 106 to U.S. Hwy. 31; Airport Road from the Greenville city limits to the Lowndes County line; North Garland Road from Garland to U.S. Hwy. 31; Halso Mill Road from Pigeon Creek to Hwy. 106; Seventh Avenue and North Butler Springs from Hwy. 10 to the Wilcox County line; and Steiner’s Store Road from Hwy. 31 to the Lowndes County line.

“The money we’re getting won’t fix the roads that we get the most complaints about, but it will help extend the life of some of our other roads,” Commissioner Allin Whittle said.

Only major collector roads, or roadways which serve 500 vehicles a day, 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.

“ATRIP doesn’t fix our road problem,” Commissioner Jesse McWilliams said. “It doesn’t help with the 400 miles of road that we hear about all the time. It will help us maintain some of our other roads, but I just don’t see why we aren’t allowed to use the money to fix our worst roads first and then work on our better roads.”

Of the seven projects approved by the commission on Monday, three of the roads were rated as being in “good” condition and three were rated as being in “fair” condition.

Seventh Avenue and North Butler Springs received a rating of “poor.”

“I trust (County Engineer) Dennis (McCall),” Commissioner Joey Peavy said. “He doesn’t have a district and doesn’t need a vote. He has a county road system to look after and that’s what he does. If these are the roads he feels like we need to use the money on, then I’m going to trust his judgment.”

McCall said the paving projects will likely take four to five years to complete.

According to McCall, the City of Greenville will use its $1.2 million to resurface North Conecuh, a portion of Airport Road, Hickory Street and Glendale Avenue. The City of Georgiana will use its funds to resurface a portion of Ebenezer Road.

County officials must submit their proposed projects to the governor’s office by Aug. 23.

In the previous rounds of ATRIP, Butler County was awarded funds for the resurfacing of County Road 50 from Alabama Hwy. 10 East to the Crenshaw County line; County Road 45 and County Road 59 from U.S. Hwy. 31 to Pigeon Creek; County Road 45 from Hwy. 106 to County Road 59; and for improvements to a bridge on County Road 53 that spans a tributary of Patsaliga Creek.

The City of Greenville was also awarded funds to resurface Conecuh Street from Hwy. 10 to U.S. Hwy. 31 in Greenville.

During all three phases of the program, more than $10.3 million has been allocated for projects within Butler County.