City applies for $6.8 million road improvement grants
by Emily Adams
SYLACAUGA – The city has applied for more than $6.8 million in state grants to repave 10 of Sylacauga’s most traveled roadways.

Funding is currently available through the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program, a program administered by the Alabama Department of Transportation that aims to improve transportation infrastructure through the accelerated delivery of funding for critical-needs projects.

The city submitted separate, prioritized ATRIP applications requesting money to repave a total of 15.15 miles on the following streets, in order of greatest need: West Fourth Street, Main Avenue, Fort Williams Street, James Payton Boulevard, Oldfield Road, Eighth Street and Old Talladega Highway, Avondale Avenue, Coaling Road, Forest Glen Road and West Walnut Street.

Mayor Doug Murphree said the city’s recent $1 million paving project barely put a dent in the repaving that needs to be done, and he would love to see all of these requests granted, though the city doesn’t know what to realistically expect.

“I met with the director of ALDOT, and I stressed to him that we really need it all,” Murphree said. “I don’t know that I expect for us to get it all, but this is the third round (of ATRIP grants), and we have not applied before, so I feel like we have a chance.”

ALDOT is expected to award its third round of grants by late July with funding for the approved projects scheduled to come through in May 2014. The program pays 80 percent, which in this case would be $5.5 million, and requires a local 20-percent match. ATRIP is funded through a state bond issue, Murphree said, and will be repaid with federal allocation money.

“These roads are all major arteries, that way when we have money to do paving projects after that, we can do the more residential streets that aren’t included here, and that will help us a lot,” Murphree said. “This would be a shot in the arm for us, because right now, paving is overwhelming us. We don’t have the money to keep it up. We’ve got $6.8 million we’ve asked for here. It’s going to be a long time before we have $6.8 million to do paving, and we’re only going to get further behind, so this is an opportunity for us to get a lot done for $1.3 million. That would be wonderful.”

Announced by Gov. Robert Bentley in March 2012, ATRIP is the largest road and bridge improvement project in Alabama’s history, according to information from the governor’s office. In its first two rounds of grants, the program awarded 439 projects totaling more than $613 million to 61 of the state’s 67 counties including Talladega.

“Everyone benefits from ATRIP,” Bentley said in a press release. “We’re improving public safety by replacing old bridges and repairing and widening outdated roads. ATRIP also helps create jobs. When companies build new facilities, they look for areas with good roads and bridges. ATRIP is giving them what they need. The more companies that build and expand in Alabama, the more jobs we’re able to create.”

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