For the better part of a decade the subject of additional funding for County Roads & Bridges has been one of, if not the biggest, issue for every single county across the state of Alabama.
Cherokee County Commissioner Marcie Foster is taking a road trip this week, in an effort to learn more about what county leaders, and citizens, can do, in order to make sure they have the money needed to properly maintain the roads in Cherokee County
“The Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation & Improvement Program” commonly referred to as ATRIP, was introduced by Governor Robert Bentley with a goal of investing more than one billion dollars in the state’s roads and bridges.
The ATRIP investment in Cherokee County has thus far resulted in road improvements on a total of eleven different projects; the $8.4 million in improvements delivered over the three year period is the equivalent of 13 years of normal federal allocations received by Cherokee County.
Studies show that those improvements have directly impacted more than 18,000 residents, that live along ATRIP funded routes.
How can you, as a resident of Cherokee County, make your voice heard in regard to keeping our roads maintained properly? You can visit a website dedicated to gathering information from those impacted by funding, or the lack thereof.
Again, visit the website drivealabama.org to take a survey and make your opinions known.
For additional information on this story visit our website at weisradio.com
We’ll have more information following Commissioner Foster’s return next week.
Cherokee County officials are urging citizens to look at the Alabama Transportation and Rehabilitation Investment Program (ATRIP) as an example of how local road and bridge investments can benefit the entire state.
ATRIP was introduced in 2012 as an infrastructure initiative aimed at investing over $1 billion into Alabama’s local roads and bridges. As a result of ATRIP’s investment plan, many counties will complete 15 to 20 years of road and bridge projects in a three to four year period.
“We will complete 11 additional infrastructure projects in Cherokee County because of ATRIP. There is no way these projects could have been done without this program,” said Kirk Day, Cherokee County Commission Chairman. “But now that the program is coming to an end, we must deal with the remaining road situations without the extra infusion of money coming in from the state.”
The accelerated ATRIP investment into local infrastructure helped all of Alabama’s 67 counties address critical needs by giving them the resources to rehabilitate, preserve, and improve roads and bridges on county systems—improvements that would otherwise not be possible.
One example in Cherokee County is County Road 19, said Corey Chambers, the Cherokee County Engineer. The resurfacing project invested $1,530,995.00 (a combination of 80% Federal and 20% Local Funds) to provide needed roadway maintenance and safety improvements, benefitting over 80 homes, 2 churches, and 3 businesses located on the road along with several homes, churches, businesses from the surrounding communities of Centre, Tennala, Ball Play and Piedmont. In addition to the residential impacts in the area, the project has improved access to 1060 acres of timber land and 627 acres of farm land.
While the program has been beneficial to the citizens who utilize the routes receiving ATRIP moneys, county leaders expect other communities in Cherokee County will have to go without such improvements due to budget shortfalls.
According to the Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA), most counties are facing this same issue. “For years, we’ve had to piecemeal together funding packages to help counties keep their heads above water with basic road and bridge maintenance. In order to truly meet Alabama’s 21st century mobility needs, we will have to identify a sustainable revenue source for local infrastructure programs,” said Sonny Brasfield, ACCA Executive Director.
Corey Chambers said Cherokee County has joined a statewide coalition of county engineers, county commissioners, community leaders, and citizens known as DRIVE Alabama (Developing a Road and Infrastructure Vision for Everyone in Alabama) in hopes of bringing more statewide attention to the limited funding available to support Alabama’s growing infrastructure needs.
“With our current financial resources almost exclusively going to maintenance activities, Cherokee County is situated like most Alabama counties. The amount of money needed to improve and preserve the county’s road and bridge network is 300% higher than what is currently available to perform basic maintenance. We simply don’t have the resources to complete all the infrastructure work that needs to be done,” said Chambers.
DRIVE Alabama is a coalition of community leaders and citizens led by county engineers from Alabama’s 67 counties speaking in one voice to bring attention to the growing infrastructure needs across the state of Alabama. For more information visit the website www.drivealabama.org