By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced 105 road and bridge improvement projects that will be funded in the first round of funding for ATRIP – the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program. ATRIP is the largest road and bridge improvement program in the history of the state.
Gov. Bentley said, “From large cities to rural areas, the people of this state deserve reliable, safe roads and bridges. School buses should not have to be detoured around substandard bridges. Communities need help improving roads that are currently over capacity or in need of various safety improvements.”
Gov. Bentley also said that the road improvements will help the state recruit new industries and jobs. “Companies depend on updated roads and bridges to help them safely conduct business and make deliveries. As we improve our infrastructure, we will improve the business climate in the state and make Alabama more attractive to businesses seeking to locate here and bring additional jobs,” the Governor said. ““In addition, this program will create construction jobs across the state as projects move forward, and by making areas more attractive to prospective employers, the ATRIP program will help with the long-term recruitment of even more jobs in the future.”
The state is issuing GARVEE bonds to pay for much of the cost of the project. Interest rates on municipal bonds are at historic lows due to the recent recession and Federal Reserve efforts to force interest rates low in an attempt to grow this stagnant economy, by lowering the cost of borrowing. The Governor’s statement said, “the use of GARVEE bonds makes strong financial sense as the low cost of borrowing is generally lower than the rising cost of inflation in construction projects. “By using GARVEE bonds, we are able to make much-needed improvements without raising taxes,” Governor Bentley said.
The ATRIP program was part of the Governor’s 2012 legislative agenda and passed the legislature with bipartisan support. Cities and counties have submitted their proposals to the Alabama Department of Transportation. The final project funding decisions were made by an advisory committee and Gov. Bentley. 64 of Alabama’s 67 counties submitted applications and 61 counties had projects approved in the first round of ATRIP funding. Two more rounds are planned. The next round is in the fall and the final round will be next spring.
The first round of ATRIP funding will replace 36 Alabama bridges, upgrade intersections, add additional lanes, and resurface roads. The first round includes $138.5 million in funding. Local governments provide matching funds for the projects. In Jefferson County, 5 projects were approved in Trussville, Hoover, Gardendale, Birmingham, and Bessemer. St. Clair County was awarded one road resurfacing project. In Mobile County, three projects were approved in Pritchard, in Mobile, and one to the county itself. There were two projects approved in Montgomery County: one of them in the City of Montgomery. Madison County had two projects approved: one in Huntsville and the other in Madison. One bridge will be replaced in Shelby County. There are two projects approved in Tuscaloosa County: one of them in the city of Tuscaloosa. Five projects were approved in Baldwin County, including projects in Daphne, Robertsdale, Fairhope, and Gulf Shores.