Elmore County residents should be literally seeing signs of which road and bridge projects the Alabama gas tax increase is paying for by late summer.
Elmore County engineer Richie Beyer told county commissioners at their meeting Thursday the county is required to have a plan in place by Aug. 31 detailing which projects Rebuild Alabama funds will be used for. Commissioners can select options before approving the plan.
“We’ve got to show the projects we will expend the Rebuild Alabama money on,” Beyer said after the meeting.
Beyer’s department is currently working on a county road inventory and grading system to bring to the commissioners and once the plan is approved, Beyer plans to post signs at specific sites showing the Rebuild Alabama money is being used there.
“I think people will begin to see the signs in September, although the work may not begin until the spring based on how the money comes in,” he said.
In April, Beyer said Elmore County is expected to receive $1.22 million annually from the gas tax increase the Alabama Legislature passed earlier this year. Gas taxes in Alabama will rise 10 cents a gallon once the Rebuild Alabama program is fully implemented in 2022. The initial 6-cent increase per gallon takes effect Sept. 1.
Beyer stressed again Thursday residents will see maintenance and repairs done, including paving of some dirt roads, not new roads and bridges.
“We want to get asphalt and concrete on the road as soon as possible,” Beyer said in April. “They’ll see additional roads being resurfaced. They’ll start to see bridge projects that have been lingering.”
According to the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, Elmore County is responsible for 1,000 miles of roads, 182 of which are unpaved. It has 123 bridges, 20 of which are at least 50 years old, according to the ACCA.
The Rebuild Alabama funds will help the county maintain more of its roads and bridges but it still isn’t enough to fix everything, the ACCA said. Elmore County needs $10.48 million per year just to maintain roads on a 15-year cycle and replace bridges on a 50-year cycle. Its budget is $4.965 million annually and the extra $1.22 million will bring that to $6.185 million a year — still nearly $4.3 million short of the needs.
Beyer said in April 164 miles of roads and streets in the county grade below a 79.
“That means you’re getting more into the rehabilitation of the roadway, which is more expensive,” he said. “People start having an uncomfortable ride on that kind of road. Their front ends get knocked out due to potholes. With another 213 miles needing some form of immediate attention and four bridges in need of major rehab or replacement now, the Rebuild Alabama allocation the county will begin receiving will be put right to work.”
In other action at meeting, county commissioners voted 4-0 to:
• Approve warrants totaling $1,179,616.35 from May 8-17.
• Approve a Class II (package store) liquor license application from Lakeside Highway 111 LLC for Lakeside Highway Package Store at 6269 Holtville Rd. in Wetumpka and an off-premises retail beer and table wine liquor license application from Lakeside Highway 111 LLC for Lakeside Marathon at 6265 Holtville Rd. in Wetumpka.
• Approve transferring $40,269.03 in excess tax sale funds from May 18, 2016, to the county’s general fund. Beyer said it’s a routine transaction in May once excess tax sale funds exceed their three-year limit on the books.
• Approve a revised agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation concerning a roundabout in Redland at the intersection of Redland and Firetower roads. Beyer said in acquiring additional rights of way the cost of relocating utilities was higher than expected and the county received $175,000 in additional federal funds for the project. The roundabout will cost $293,164, Beyer said, with the county paying a 20% match ($58,632).
• Approve family medical leave for dispatcher Angelia Rigsby.
Commissioners were also notified of the promotion of Anne-Margaret Trost to dispatcher supervisor.
The county commission’s next meeting is June 10 at 5 p.m. at the county courthouse in Wetumpka.