By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Gov. Kay Ivey and Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) officials announced last week that an almost-$46 million funding pie is being awarded to several cities and counties for various road and bridge projects.
Atmore will get a slice of that pie, although it won’t be a large slice. And the city will have to help pay for the ingredients.
The roadway improvement funds are awarded through the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program-II (ATRIP-II). ATRIP-II is part of the Rebuild Alabama Act, which requires that a minimum of $30 million be taken off the top of ALDOT’s share of new gas tax revenue each year to fund projects of local interest along the state highway system.
Atmore will get $58,000 for intersection improvements on Alabama 21 at Poarch Road East, including the addition of a right-turn lane off northbound 21, where Poarch Road will eventually be extended, as well as modification of the existing traffic signal so that it will also cover the right lanes of Highway 21 at its junction with Poarch Road. A left-turn lane at 21’s southbound junction has already been completed.
Twenty-seven projects were selected this year to share $45.99 million in funding. Of those, 20 were from cities (including Atmore) and counties that will put up a total of approximately $15.7 million in local funds. Atmore’s match will be $11,600 (20 percent of the project total).
Mayor Jim Staff said he is glad the city will be getting the state funds, although he had hoped no matching funds would be required for making the highway more readily accessible to the new hospital and prison that will be built off 21.
“At least we don’t have to pay all of it,” he said of the highway improvements costs. “We’re grateful for every little bit we get.”
Gov. Ivey said in a press release that the time had come to move forward with the effort to strengthen the state’s transportation system, while still keeping an eye on the COVID-19 pandemic’s spread.
“In Alabama, across our country and around the globe, we are all still working to get COVID-19 behind us, but here at home, we have not forgotten other priorities,” the governor said. “Even as we are overcoming new challenges with the virus, we remain ever committed to making needed improvements to our infrastructure.”
ALDOT officials anticipate that many of the ATRIP-II projects will be under contract before the state’s 2021 fiscal year ends. All projects must move forward within two years of the funds being awarded.
No start date or timetable for completion has been announced for the local project.