County seeking funds to resurface Owens Road

Published 1:41 pm Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Butler County will seek a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to widen and resurface Owens Road.

The Butler County Commission voted Monday to move forward with the application for the funds, which would be used to widen, level and resurface approximately three miles of Owens Road (County Road 23) from Alabama Hwy. 106 to County Road 59.

County Engineer Dennis McCall estimated that the project would cost $400,000. The grant would likely cover $350,000 of the costs.

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The commission voted to proceed with the application for Owens Road over a project involving Sandra Lane and Mary Lane.

“Basically, the Owens Road project would be a resurfacing project versus a grade,
drain, base and pave project on Sandra Lane and Mary Lane,” McCall said.

That project would was estimated at $352,000. The grant would like cover just $200,000.

The real concern, however, wasn’t the cost as much as the strain it would have placed on the Butler County Road Department.

“Due to the expense of a grade, drain, base and pave project, as much ‘in-kind’ work by county forces as possible is needed to make the project cost
effective,” McCall said. “The concern is having the time and manpower to do this due to the demands of (the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program).”

Fifteen road and bridge projects throughout the county are or were funded by ATRIP, which takes future federal dollars to pay for road and bridge projects that are needed immediately.

The state awarded more than $10.3 million for projects in Butler County

Butler County has six resurfacing projects remaining that are part of ATRIP.

“ATRIP projects demand all engineering staff for inspection as well as
maintenance crews for drainage structure repairs, replacements, etc. ahead
of contract work,” McCall said.

Commissioner Jesse McWilliams said he felt given the demands created by the ATRIP projects, the county would be wise to make the Owens Road project its aim for the CDBG.

“In listening to (McCall) about the Sandra Lane and Mary Lane project and the amount of money it would take for him to do in-kind work there, it’s something that will be real hard on him and his department with what we have going on with ATRIP right now,” McWilliams said. “Sandra Lane and Mary Lane are something we’ve talked about for a good while. County Road 23 is a standalone project where you’re not going to have all this in-kind work, and you’re going to benefit some people, hopefully, if it gets approved. Right now, in my opinion, this is a better project for us to try to get approved. But if something happens and it does not get funded, I’d like for us to consider seriously going back to Sandra Lane and Mary Lane. You need to have a plan going forward and you need to have a plan if it doesn’t work.”

Commissioner Joey Peavy also voiced support for the Owens Road project.

“My concern after talking with Dennis was the in-kind work,” he said. “It wasn’t so much the financial end of it. With the in-kind work we only have so many employees and all these ATRIP projects are taking a toll on what we have available. That’s why I thought we should go with County Road 23. It will benefit more people and will take less labor out of our department that right now is strained with ATRIP projects.”
While Commissioner Frank Hickman did vote in support of placing the Owens Road project on the application, he voiced concerns with skipping over the Sandra Lane and Mary Lane project.

“We’ve been talking about Sandra Lane and Mary Lane for consideration for CDBG for I know the last 10 years,” Hickman said. “It’s generally had the support of the engineer and the other members of this commission, and all the sudden it’s been relegated back to second status for hole-in-the-road County Road 23. Sandra Lane and Mary Lane need attention. It’s a high-density area of this county that does not enjoy the amenities that its citizens should be entitled to as tax-paying citizens of this community. I understand what Commissioner McWilliams said about (County Road 23) and I’m not opposed to that. I’m just a little confused about how Mary Lane and Sandra Lane got relegated to second status by the people involved in this process.”

The commission voted unanimously to approve the CDBG application for Owens Road.