ROUGH ROADPublished 11:00pm Thursday, September 12, 2013
Construction could begin in spring
Federal funding has been awarded to Pike County for much needed repairs on Elm Street, but those who drive up and down the road have a little waiting to do before those repairs come to fruition.
“It’s a frustrating situation for all of us, especially for those that live there,” said Troy Mayor Jason A. Reeves. “We are going to push and hope and pray that it gets done as soon as possible.”
Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program funds have been awarded to the county for work on the county-owned road. However, an estimated $1 billion in ATRIP money has been awarded for Alabama and that means the process of approvals and applications for construction is moving along slowly.
Oliver explained that clearances and approvals for projects are required from a handful of agencies, including U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the Alabama Department of Environmental Protection, the Alabama Historical Commission, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and others.
“Getting these projects let is a complex process and each step has to be approved and worked through individually,” Oliver said. “Under normal circumstances, you are looking at a period of eight months from the time a project is initiated to the time there is any construction work done on the projects.”
That’s in a normal situation, Oliver noted. However, ATRIP is federal money administrated through ALDOT and that means red tape.
“This is the largest road building program in the history of the state,” Oliver said. “We are talking historical proportions, upwards of $1 billion. [ALDOT’s] workload has been drastically increased.”
Oliver and Reeves both said they hope the Elm Street project will be let in February, but it could be the late spring of 2014 before construction starts.
“I can sympathize and empathize with people who have to use Elm Street because I live out there, myself,” Oliver said. “My family and I drive through that every day. We understand people’s frustration.
“Everyone involved is doing all they can to expedite this project. I can promise you that.”
The work on Elm Street includes resurfacing the road to eliminate the potholes and subsequent patches over the potholes, and also raising the area near Crow’s Pond where the road consistently floods during periods of heavy rain.
The road already needed work, according to Pike County Engineer Russell Oliver, but the situation was made worse last year by 15 dump trucks making three round-trips each from a site near Trojan Arena to a borrow pit off of Elm Street.
“They absolutely made it worse,” Oliver said. “But even if they hadn’t hauled through there, the road would still need this work.”
Oliver said, as part of the partnership between the city and county, the City of Troy is generously handling the local match required for the funding and has taken the lead on the design work that needs to happen regarding construction, including the bridge culvert on Elm Street.
“I am very thankful to the city for helping the county get these projects done,” Oliver said.
Enzor Road and Henderson Highway are also joint city-county projects that have received ATRIP funding. Those projects are expected to be let in December.