Amendment would give

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 1, 2000

more funds for improvments


Staff Writer

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Many people are hoping Alabama voters pass Amendment 1 on Nov. 7.

If the amendment is adopted by the state’s electorate, some 45 brides in Pike County could be replaced.

The proposed amendment to the Constitution of Alabama

would establish the County and Municipal Government Capital Improvement Trust Fund and the Alabama Capital Improvement Trust Fund and redistribute a portion of the oil and gas capital payments now being paid into the Alabama Trust Fund under Amendment 450 of the 1901 Constitution.

Passage of the amendment would authorize issuing of General Obligation Bonds in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $350 million.

That money will be used to "make substantial capital improvements to the state dock facilities at the Port of Mobile," promoting economic development and industrial recruitment in Alabama, provide local governments match monies required to issue federal grant revenue bonds for road and bridge improvements and give funding to municipal governments for infrastructure improvements. It will also appropriate money in the Alabama Capital Improvement Trust Fund for payment of debt service on General Obligation Bonds.

Pike County officials are pushing for passage of the amendment so they can replace the 45 bridges which school buses cannot cross.

Gov. Don Siegelman recently visited one such site in Pike County. He got a first-hand look at Boyd’s Mill Creek Bridge on County Road 13.

The bridge just off County Road 1/Shellhorn Highway is only one of many bridges in the county that may be repaired or replaced if Amendment 1 passes.

The governor is proposing the state put $250 million into county roads and bridges, which would be the largest investment of its kind for the state since Big Jim Folsom’s Farm to Market road project about 50 years ago.

The constitutional amendment would allow the state to use 28 percent of new revenues from the royalty payments while existing revenue from past royalties will not be spent.

"Amendment One is the only way to fix these bridges without raising taxes," Siegelman said.

The 77 bridges in Pike County in need of repair would receive more than $6.3 million from Siegelman’s plan.

While visiting Boyd’s Mill Creek Bridge, the governor commented that bridges in disrepair cut off this area of the state from the rest when it comes to economic growth.

County Road 13 is an example because the bridge has forced feed trucks going to a poultry farm to find another route because of the posted weight limit of three tons.

County Engineer Herb Huner estimates it will cost $150,000 to move the old grist mill bridge. He also said that particular bridge is the "highest priority" on the state list.

In Pike County, 37 bridges are not able to withstand the weight of school buses, 18-wheelers and emergency vehicles.

Two of the unsafe bridges in Pike County force school bus drivers to travel more than 33 miles out of their way each day with busloads of children.

Across the state, school buses have to detour more than 17,000 miles because of unsafe bridges, costing the state $7 million dollars each year.

"Vehicles weighing 15 tons or more are prohibited from traveling over these bridges," Siegelman said. "These literal ‘road blocks’ result in lengthy detours of 18-wheelers and emergency response vehicles."

If the plan is enacted, Pike County is second only to Mobile County in the amount of money it will receive for bridges.

According to the state’s list, the following bridges in Pike County would be replaced: Log Creek, two on Boyd’s Mill Creek, McQuagge Mill Creek, Beeman Creek, two on Manning Creek and Manning Creek Relief, Indian Creek, Mud Creek, Panther Creek, Hurricane Branch, Gore’s Branch, Brown’s Mill Creek, two on Richland Creek, three on Buckhorn Creek, Conner’s Creek, Sandy Run Creek, Deer Creek Relief, Big Creek, Lynn Mill Creek, Motes Mill Creek, two on Olustee Creek, Dorrill Creek, Mill Creek, Tributary Sand Run Creek, Pearson Branch, Mill Creek, a branch off Buckhorn Road and four unnamed ones.