By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) signed Senate Bill 192 into law. SB 192 creates the Rural Assistance Match Program (RAMP), which will help more counties participate in the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP). ATRIP is the largest road and bridge improvement program in Alabama’s history and has been cited by the Bentley Administration as one of his biggest accomplishments.
Gov. Bentley said, “ATRIP is improving public safety by replacing old bridges and repairing and widening outdated roads. Better roads and bridges help a community attract new jobs. When companies look for places to build and expand, they look for good infrastructure. So while ATRIP is improving public safety, it’s also helping improve our economy.” “Some counties have not been able to participate because of limited funding. Thanks to this legislation, those counties now have the resources available to participate in ATRIP and receive much-needed improvements.”
SB 192 was sponsored by Alabama Senator Paul Bussman (R) from Cullman. Sen. Bussman said on Facebook, “Senate Bill 192 establishes the Rural Assistance Match Program (RAMP). RAMP will be available to counties that are unable to meet the 20 percent local funding match required to participate in ATRIP, the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program. ATRIP was established by Governor Bentley in 2012 to help local areas access funding needed for essential road and bridge improvements.”
Alabama Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey (R) said on Facebook, “The Rural Assistance Match Program (RAMP) bill sponsored by Sen. Paul Bussman is signed into law providing help to rural counties for road and bridge repairs. I am proud to serve as a member of the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP) Advisory Committee and see this help extended to rural counties. Now all counties can take part in ATRIP.”
Rep. Mac McCutcheon (R) from Monrovia carried the legislation in the Alabama House of Representatives. Rep. McCutcheon said in a written statement, “In addition to providing taxpayers with the quality roads and bridges they expect and deserve, this initiative will provide Alabama with the transportation infrastructure we need in order to compete with other states in industrial recruitment and job creation. Making these road and bridge improvements available to each county and area of the state will also ensure that Alabama’s important transportation decisions will be based on priorities and not politics.”
Sen. Bussman said, “Attended the bill signing and spoke at the press conference for my RAMP bill that will provide needed funding for bridge and road improvements in our less fortunate counties. In my district, it will provide from $5-$7M to Winston and Lawrence Co for construction and improvement of bridges and roads. We will be able to do 10-15 years worth of work in the next 3 years which will save a tremendous amount of money.”
ATRIP is administered by the state of Alabama, but the funds actually come from the federal government. Participating in ATRIP requires that the county post a 20% match for any ATRIP dollars that they apply for. The RAMP programs helps those poor counties come up with those local matching funds. so that they too can participate in ATRIP. Bentley established ATRIP in 2012 to help local areas make essential road and bridge improvements. ATRIP is funded up front by federal GARVEE bonds and will be paid for in future federal highway appropriations.
RAMP provides counties and cities that can’t come up with the 20 percent local funding match up to $1 million in state funds to use as matching money to obtain an additional $4 million in federal funds. RAMP is paid for thru an Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) bond issue.
ATRIP has already funded 439 road and bridge projects and 61 of Alabama’s 67 counties have received ATRIP funding. The RAMP program will allow all counties to receive ATRIP funding.
The six poor counties that have not received ATRIP projects because they can’t find any matching money in their budgets include Fayette, Hale, Lawrence, Marengo, Wilcox and Winston Counties. Other counties that have received limited ATRIP funding, but are eligible for RAMP assistance include: Barbour, Bibb, Bullock, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Crenshaw, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Lowndes, Marion, Perry, Pickens and Randolph Counties. 22 counties are eligible for RAMP dollars. ATRIP is expected to provide over $1 billion in road and bridge improvements for Alabama communities.