After funding much of the nation’s transportation work in three-month-long increments during the fiscal year just ended, Congress in July finally passed a two-year surface transportation bill, said Jack Plunk, principal planner for East Alabama Regional Planning Commission which manages the Metropolitan Planning Organization.
“We have fairly stable funding for 2013 and 2014,” Plunk said, adding, “We want something for four or six years because that adds more stability.”
But at least the two-year allocation will allow some larger projects to get moving, he said.
Anniston City Manager Don Hoyt said the MPOs are a federally required system.
“When you’re involved with federal transportation funds, they have to come through the Metropolitan Planning Organization,” Hoyt said. “So you don’t have Calhoun County, Anniston and Piedmont or Jacksonville all competing for the same money. You work together to come up with projects that are mutually beneficial to everybody.”
Normally, 80 percent of the cost of MPO projects are paid for with federal money, and local governments pay the remaining 20 percent, said Bob Dean, director of Anniston’s Public Works Department.
The projects are prioritized by the MPO committee, Hoyt said. The local governing bodies submit their projects, but the final decision on which projects are done when depend on funding and the committee’s decision, he said.
Two MPO projects are planned for Anniston in fiscal 2013: the resurfacing of an older section of Summerall Gate Road and safety improvements on Greenbrier Dear Road from Hill-yer Robinson Industrial Parkway to Quintard Avenue, Dean said.
“There’s going to be resurfacing,” Dean said of the Greenbrier project. “There’s going to be some new drainage designs to prevent hydroplaning, new guardrails.”
The road is still undergoing an engineering study, so the extent of the work isn’t completely finalized, Dean said.
Summerall Gate Road had been scheduled to be resurfaced in 2011 and wasn’t approved, Plunk said. It’s been put on the list again for this fiscal year. The cost of resurfacing a two-lane road starts at about $400,000 a mile, Plunk said.
There are also two projects for Calhoun County, Oxford and one scheduled for Jacksonville.
In Jacksonville, Plunk said, the MPO has already started the bid process for the resurfacing of about a mile of Mountain Street Northwest.
“Construction will probably begin in late December,” Plunk said.
Most of the other projects won’t get under way until later in the fiscal year as weather permits, he added.
In addition to the planned projects, Plunk said there will be a preliminary engineering study on Whites Gap Road Southeast. He estimated that project will eventually cost $457,000 and he hopes the organization will be able to get to it in the upcoming year.
“If we have good luck, we should have an active year,” Plunk said.
Star staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545.