Governor Robert Bentley announced the awards from Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program and the newly created Rural Assistance Match Program earlier this week. The awards will allow the county to replace up to 10 bridges that are unable to accept bus or truck traffic with bridges that will.
Shannon Robbins, Cleburne County engineer, announced the grants at the Cleburne County Commission meeting on Monday. It was the culmination of months of preparation by the county.
“We’ve got roughly $6.5 million to spend, and very little of it has to be matched,” Robbins said adding in the remainder of a $2 million ATRIP grant the city of Heflin was awarded.
That roughly $1.5 million will require a 20 percent match from the county, Robbins said.
He also informed the commission that the county will have to pay some of the money up front for the consultants working on the projects and then the state will reimburse it. Making sure there will be enough money available when needed will take planning and organization from his department, the finance department and the commission to do, Robbins said.
County Administrator Steve Swafford said he didn’t see a problem meeting the match and having the money available when necessary. Swafford had suggested the county use a one-time increase in cap-ital improvement funds from the Alabama Trust Fund, about $321,000, for the match. The commis-sioners will have to make the final allocation, Swafford said.
There may be more expenses involved than just the match, though. The county may have to purchase property if the plans encroach on private property, Robbins said. There’s also work that might come up after the design plans are finished. For instance Robbins said the site will have to be inspected for its impact on local wildlife. If it impacts an endangered species it might mean design revisions or other additional work that could add to the cost of the project, Robbins said.
He’s hoping to stretch the money as far as possible, but he’s not sure it will stretch to all 10 of the bridges, Robbins said.
Robbins has requested doing some of the dirt work and design work using county workers to save money. He’s still waiting for approval from ALDOT, Robbins said.
The county has been working on getting ready for the projects since November, Robbins said after the meeting. There are a couple of projects that could be bid out as early as October, he said. But there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done before the other eight will be ready, Robbins said.
Swafford said the plans have to be developed and then the Alabama Department of Transportation has to approve them. ALDOT will bid the projects out.
Staff writer Laura Camper 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.