By Donna Thornton/News Editor
A state program started in 2012 is making a $19,000,000 impact in Etowah County, funding 80 percent of a variety of road and bridge projects, according to county and city leaders.
At a press conference last week, Etowah County Commissioner Joey Statum said significant progress has been made on five road and 17 bridge projects in the area.
The Alabama Transportation Rehabilition and Improvement Program helps local governments with necessary road and bridge projects.
It is funded by bonds that will be repaid with future federal funds.
Local governments are required to put up a 20 percent match to obtain the funds.
The Rural Assistance Match Program, was created to help counties that cannot come up with the 20 percent match so that all counties in the state can benefit from ATRIP.
The projects range from adding lanes on Steele Station Road from Ala. 77 to Sutton Bridge Road
in Rainbow City to replacing a bridge built in 1917, according to Commissioner Jeff Overstreet. That bridge, he said, crosses Bristow Creek on Fairview Cove Road.
A total of 14 bridges will be replaced, Statum said. Detouring around these unsafe bridges has caused approximately 57,960 miles of school bus detours – an average six mile detour per bridge — and added 75,00 hours to the time children have spent on school buses.
The lengthened trips have cost the Etowah County Board of Education approximately $230,000 annually, according to county figures.
The average age of bridges being replaced is 61 years old. In addition replacing bridges, Statum said, in many areas the existing approaches to the bridges will be realigned to make the bridges safer at the driving speeds on those roadways.
County road and bridge projects include:
Bridge on Bud Umphrey Road over Bristow Creek;
Bridge on Wesson Gap Road over Little Wills Creek;
Bridge on Mayo Road over Bristow Creek;
Bridge on Jackson Trail Road over Locust Fork;
Bridge and approaches over Pole Creek on Friendship Church Road;
Bridge and approaches over Black Creek on Means Road;
Bridge and approaches over Short Creek on Son Johnson Road;
Bridge and approaches over Black Creek on Yates Road;
Bridge and approaches on Coates Bend Circle over an unnamed tributary to the Coos River;
Bridge and approaches on Murhree Valley Road over Locust Fork of the Warrior River;
Bridge and approaches on Fairview Cove Road over Bristow Creek;
Bridge and approaches on County Road 71 over Dry Creek;
Bridge and approaches on Mountain Pass Road over Green Creek;
Bridge and approaches on Cox Gap Road over Short Creek;
Glencoe’s project is the bridge on Pineview Avenue over Cove Creek.
Intersection improvements will be made to Mountainboro Road at U.S. 431 in Boaz.
In Gadsden, projects will be resurfacing Third Street and Goodyear Avenue and bridge work on the Tuscaloosa Avenue bridge over Black Creek.
Hoke Bluff’s project is th bridge on Caddell Circle over Big Cove Creek.
In Attalla, fourth Street from Sixth Avenue to U.S. 11 and Burke Avenue from Lee Steet to Ala. 77 will be resurfaced.
Additional lanes will be added on Steele Station Road from Ala. 77 to Sutton Bridge Road in Rainbow City.
In additon to the projects within Etowah County, ATRIP projects have been announced statewide in recent weeks.
An estimated $966 million in ATRIP dollars are being invested in more than 1,000 local transportation infrastructure projects, according to a press release from the commission. ATRIP is expected to generate more than 15,000 jobs through these projects, the release stated.