Chief Ladiga Trail could get long-awaited work
by Laura Johnson
lbjohnson@annistonstar.com
Jul 17, 2012 | 3997 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chief Ladiga Trail users could learn as early as today whether a plan to repave a portion of the trail will go forward.

The Piedmont City Council is expected to consider today at a council meeting whether the city can afford the project, which will cost the municipality $27,000 more than originally expected. If the project moves ahead as planned, the portion of the trail between Merrellton Road near Alabama 21 and the Cleburne County line will be resurfaced.

Cyclist Mindy Poe said that smooth portions of the trail in Jacksonville and in Cleburne County are interrupted by the rough portion of the trail that is bumpy and uncomfortable to ride across in places. That portion of the trail, which is in unincorporated parts of Calhoun County and in Piedmont, would be repaved as part of the project.

“It’s got a lot of roots that have grown under the trial and so it’s buckled up under the trial,” Poe said of that portion of the trail.

The project has been in the works since 2008, when the original cost estimate was $503,100. The federal government agreed to pay for 80 percent, or $402,680, of the project through the Alabama Department of Transportation.

Piedmont agreed to pay 75 percent of the remaining part of the project and Calhoun County agreed to pay for 25 percent of the local governments’ portion of the project.

About four years passed before the project was opened for companies to bid, and by that time construction costs had increased, according to Calhoun County Engineer Brian Rosenbalm.

The lowest bid, placed by Karma Construction of Birmingham, was $555,814, or $52,000 over the project’s budget.

According to the original agreement, the city, as the grant recipient, is responsible for any overruns, said Tony Harris, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Transportation.

Although the city is responsible for the added cost, city officials turned to the county for additional funds. They found some assistance.

Calhoun County Commissioner Rudy Abbott agreed to commit $25,000 in county money to the project, leaving Piedmont to come up with the additional $27,000 it will take to pay for the project as it is currently designed. The letter regarding Abbott’s agreement states that the $25,000 would come from discretionary funding each commissioner receives to repave roads.

City officials in Piedmont hoped the county would pay for 75 percent of the added costs. Instead, it’s paying a little less than 50 percent, said Piedmont Mayor Brian Young.

Piedmont public works director Carl Hinton said he would ask the city to pay the additional $27,000 at today’s council meeting. Hinton said he hopes the city will move forward with the project.

Young said he thinks the city will, even if it has to pay $27,000 additional to do so.

“I think we can get it passed,” Hinton said. “We’ve got to do it.”

The state Transportation Department handed the money down to the city from the federal government. It’s derived from money allocated by Congress through the Transportation Enhancement Program.

According to a government website, the Transportation Enhancement Program exists to fund projects related to repaving surfaces including pedestrian and bicycle paths.

Contact Staff Writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter@LJohnson_Star.
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