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County seeks more CDBG grant funds

Residents along Salem and Reynolds roads can attest to the benefits of CDBG block grants.

Now, Pike County commissioners hope to secure additional grant funding this year to improve more roadways.

“Pike County has focused on roads for the last two projects, and they are planning this time to do the same,” said Grant Consultant Susan Monroe, who works for Roth, McHugh and Associates.

With the help of a 2007 Community Block Development Grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, the Pike County Road Department was able to pave Reynolds and Salem roads, both in dire need of improvements.

“(Salem Road) was a dirt road, was real bumpy and muddy and they’d been trying to fix it since the ‘90s,” said Homer Wright, who represents the Salem Road area. “They are real proud of it because it’s been so bumpy for so long.”

And Charlie Harris, who represents the Reynolds Road area, agreed.

“I really can say the people were living on a dirt road, and when cars went down the road, it got dust in their homes,” Harris said. “This gave them a paved road and has improved the area.

Now that those two projects are nearly complete, Pike County will compete with the rest of Alabama for the $3 million available in the grant fund this year.

But what’s still uncertain is which projects the commission will attempt to have funded.

Though County Engineer Russell Oliver already has ranked local roads in need of repairs, Monroe said she isn’t sure which ones will qualify for the program.

She did say the project the county applies for this year will likely differ from the request for just paving roads, since those types of projects are more costly.

“Paving is so high that they are talking about resurfacing some roads and maybe paving another,” Monroe said. “That will make it more competitive.”

Once applications are received, Monroe said the projects are rated, and then engineers visit the sites before choosing which ones will receive funding. “They have about $3 million in that fund, and what they do is rate (all the projects) and fund until they run out of money,” Monroe said.

To qualify, at least 51 percent of the residents living on roads in need of repair must be considered low to moderate income households.

Monroe said Pike County will know by the fall if its projects will be funded.