State approves 3 bridge projects for Talladega
by CHRIS NORWOOD
Feb 04, 2013 | 2732 views |  0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TALLADEGA —City Manager Brian Muenger announced Monday that all three bridge projects submitted to the state Department of Transportation have been approved.

The state will be providing 80 percent of the funding to replace bridges on Isbell Circle, Coosa Street and West Street at a cost of about $842,000. The city’s match would be about $200,000.

The money is coming through the second round of the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program. The first round of funding, announced in May, included a $3.6 million replacement of Stemley Bridge.

Other projects in Talladega County announced Monday included resurfacing Speedway Blvd. from Alabama 77 to the Eastaboga ramp of I-20 at a cost of almost $1.8 million and resurfacing of County Road 2 from the Omya Quarry to U.S. 280 for $378,000 and a new road and bridge connecting I-20 with Alabama 21 for $1.2 million. This new round of funding also includes widening and resurfacing Magnolia Street in Lincoln from Alabama 77 to US 78 for $675,000.

Muenger said he especially wanted to thank city planner Joel Wiggins, who had run point on the applications.

“Everyone benefits from ATRIP,” Gov. Robert Bentley said in a press release announcing the new funding. “We’re improving public safety by replacing old bridges and repairing and widening outdated roads.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.”

Low interest rates have allowed the state to float a bond issue to cover these infrastructure projects, the release explained.

During the same meeting, Muenger received his first evaluation after 14 months as city manager. The council gave him 149 points of a possible 150.

Each councilman was asked to rate the manager from one to five, with five being “exceeding job requirements” on planning, organizing and assembling resources, staffing, leading and directing, controlling and reporting and public relations and other duties.

He received a mark of four from one councilman under staffing. His other ratings were perfect across the board.

“I would like to thank everyone for their kind words,” Muenger said. “I look forward to coming to work every day, and I appreciate the jobs that all our employees and department heads do.”

Mayor Larry Barton did not participate in the evaluation process, but said during his comments, “I have been working with him for the last 14 months, and he has always been open and available. I would not recommend going back to the old form of government (strong mayor) as long as we have young men like him doing the job.”

Councilman Horace Patterson characterized Muenger’s performance as “outstanding. We are fortunate to have a city manager with the right education, experience, commitment and loyalty.”

Councilman Jarvis Elston agreed, saying Muenger had “enhanced his duties and responsibilities” during the councilman’s first term by always taking the time to address his concerns and explain issues.

Council President Donnie Miller said Muenger “has been a pleasure to work with, and I think we’re starting to see more growth in this town than we’ve seen in a long time. And I believe we will continue to grow.”

Miller also pointed out that “We didn’t have to spend any money finding a manager this time, he was already here.”

Councilman Ricky Simpson “we may argue some time, but we can always work it out in the middle.”

Also Monday, the council:

• Heard a lengthy presentation on the city’s financial status.

• Approved a new, streamlined telephone system connecting all city offices and providing redundancy and service agreement. The city’s monthly phone costs will not change.

• Approved a change in the workers compensation policy for city employees outside the water department. A resolution also keeping the water department policy local was tabled because a claim had already been filed.

• Approved a $5,000 appropriation to Antique Talladega for the annual pilgrimage, and agreed to suspend the open container law and vendor fees and close off streets for the city block party afterward.

• Approved a street light for West Street.

• Announced that the city would once again be participating in the emergency preparedness tax holiday the weekend of February 23 and 24.

• Approved an agreement with RMC to provide drug testing for $50 per visit, $36.75 per drug screen and $26.26 for each blood alcohol test.

• Approved user agreement with Talladega High School and the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind for the use of their gyms during an area wide basketball tournament expected to draw 21 or 22 teams of various ages from nine cities.

• Heard an update on the Forest Hills water project.

• Announced that temporary street signs were up around the bypass, and larger, permanent signs were forthcoming from the State Department of Transportation.

• Heard Barton announce that there would be a ribbon cutting at the North Street Bar Thursday at 2 p.m.

• Heard Barton announce that McCaig’s Motel had been bought and that a thorough renovation was forthcoming.

• Heard Simpson ask Muenger to look into the situation regarding back taxes owed by people annexed into the city 15 years ago who now owe the county five years in back taxes.

• Heard Patterson thank Barton for “the spirit of community. It’s good to be a part of that.”

Further coverage of Monday’s council meeting will appear in Wednesday’s Daily Home.

Contact Chris Norwood at cnorwood@dailyhome.com.