Two Limestone County road and bridge projects will receive funding from the state as part of the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement program.
Gov. Robert Bentley announced 105 ATRIP projects statewide on Thursday, all representing $138.5 million in road and bridge enhancements. 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.
The projects will require a 20 percent funding match provided by either the local government or through a local public-private partnership, with the remaining 80 percent provided by the Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles Bond Program, or GARVEE bonds.
Among the local projects is a bridge replacement on Mooresville Road over French’s Mill Creek, estimated at $475,000. The county would receive $380,000 in ATRIP funds, while Limestone County would pay a $95,000 match.
The second project is the resurfacing of Lucas Ferry Road and Sanderfer roads from Alabama 99 to U.S. 31. The estimated cost of the project is $972,343.51, though Athens — the local sponsor — is responsible for $194,468.70 of the cost.
James Rich, director of Athens Public Works, said city officials anticipated the Lucas Ferry and Sanderfer roads project would be on the list. He said the city uses a pavement-management study, and both projects were on the needs list.
“It’s a decent-sized project, and they’re fast-track projects,” he said. “They’re ready to go to contract with a minimal amount of effort.”
Rich said the project would have to be let by year’s end to be eligible for the ATRIP funds. Another stipulation is that all projects must be let by the Alabama Department of Transportation, though counties and municipalities may choose an engineering firm.
Projects are evaluated on several factors, including the ability to provide the required local match, the functional classification of the road, bridge sufficiency ratings, traffic counts, project delivery timeline, safety, connectivity with other highway infrastructure, innovation, partnerships, and economic, industrial or educational impacts.
A press release from the governor’s office said the goal of the projects is to improve safety and quality of life, but would also serve as an economic development recruitment tool.
“ … 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.”
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.
Through the use of GARVEE bonds, the state can access future federal dollars now to pay for road and bridge projects needed immediately. With interest rates on municipal bonds at historic lows, the use of GARVEE bonds makes strong financial sense as the low cost of borrowing is generally lower than the rising cost of inflation in construction projects.
“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.”