Alabama counties are
tackling the national problem of deteriorating roads, highways, and bridges
through an innovative partnership with the state department of transportation
that couples federal highway dollars and local matching funds.
The project known as
Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program or ATRIP, began in early
2012 with local governments afforded the opportunity to compete for funding of
projects emphasizing safety, economic development, congestion and the growing
problem of bridges closed to school bus traffic. In the 18 months that have
followed, three additional application cycles produced applications from every
county, scores of cities and universities.
ATRIP was initiated by
Governor Robert Bentley with the support of the Association of County
Commissions of Alabama and the Association of County Engineers of Alabama.
Utilizing the so-called GARVEE bond program authorized in the federal transportation
legislation, Alabama will issue bonds to cover 80 percent of the program cost
and repay the bonds with future federal gasoline tax revenue.
To receive funding,
counties and cities submitted applications to ALDOT. A committee selected
by the Governor analyzed each proposal and provided recommendations to Gov.
Bentley. Selected projects received funding for 80 percent through the
bond process with the remaining costs provided by the sponsoring county or
city. In addition, ALDOT made available a state-funded Rural Assistance Match Program (RAMP) to
provide matching funds for rural counties unable to meet the match
requirements. The 25 counties qualifying for this provision received $5
million in funding without being required to provide local match.
To highlight the
impact of the program ad the final round of project announcements, the ACCA and
Alabama's counties coordinated statewide press events in counties in every
corner of the state. Approximately 70 percent of the total project funds
was awarded to counties and the remaining 30 percent funded city and
other local projects. Some examples of selected projects include a
project to replace a one-lane bridge with no rails within Limestone County, road resurfacing
projects in Mobile County and a traffic signalization
project on Chalkville Mountain Road in
Driving on roads in
need of repair costs the state’s motorists $855
million a year and funding for roadway improvements alleviates this burden on
Ala. drivers. Also, funds from the program will help boost the state’s
economy by creating jobs in construction and related fields. In
dealing with crumbling transportation infrastructure, programs like ATRIP
prioritize projects and deliver accelerated funding for essential roadway