Governor Robert Bentley on Monday announced the approval of 302 additional road and bridge projects, the largest number of projects announced to date under the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP).
With Monday's announcement, a total of 439 road and bridge projects have been announced since Governor Bentley formally unveiled his ATRIP initiative in March of 2012. ATRIP is the largest road and bridge improvement program in Alabama's history.
"Everyone benefits from ATRIP," Governor Bentley said. "We're improving public safety by replacing old bridges and repairing and widening outdated roads. ATRIP also helps create jobs. When companies build new facilities, they look for areas with good roads and bridges. ATRIP is giving them what they need. The more companies that build and expand in Alabama, the more jobs we're able to create."
The latest projects are located in 44 counties across the state. To date, 61 of Alabama's 67 counties have received ATRIP funding for various road and bridge projects.
Governor Bentley will soon announce details of a bill that will enable Alabama's remaining six counties to participate in ATRIP. Those counties are: Fayette, Hale, Lawrence, Marengo, Wilcox and Winston. The governor's legislative proposal, currently under development, also will allow several other counties to expand their previous participation.
Funding for ATRIP comes through the use of GARVEE bonds. With GARVEE bonds, Alabama is able to access future federal dollars to pay for road and bridge projects that are needed immediately.
With interest rates on municipal bonds at historic lows, the use of GARVEE bonds makes strong financial sense as the low cost of borrowing is generally lower than the rising cost of inflation on construction projects. GARVEE bonds also allow the state to make needed improvements without raising taxes.
The 302 projects announced Monday are valued at a total of $397.78 million. Since ATRIP started, more than $613 million in projects have been approved.
Cities and counties across the state submit local project proposals for ATRIP funding. The applications are analyzed by the Alabama Department of Transportation. Eligible projects are reviewed by an advisory committee, which, in conjunction with Governor Bentley, makes project funding decisions. The committee consists of ALDOT Director John Cooper, Lt. Governor Kay Ivey, Senator Paul Bussman, Representative Mac McCutcheon, Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan and retired county engineers Herb Huner and Henry Hawkins.
"As a member of the ATRIP Advisory Committee, it's gratifying to see counties and cities working together to promote progress and improve roads and bridges," Lieutenant Governor Ivey said. "Under Governor Bentley's leadership, the approval of funding for this recent round of projects plays a vital role in the long-term economic impact of local communities and the state."
"School buses shouldn't have to detour around bad bridges, and communities shouldn't be limited in economic development by outdated roads," Senator Bussman said. "That's why ATRIP is so beneficial. This program gives our communities the roads and bridges they need to address these concerns and improve the quality of life."
"The ATRIP committee is working to promote needed highway construction and maintenance projects throughout Alabama," Rep. McCutcheon said. "Governor Bentley's leadership has been instrumental in improving our roads. Working with the Governor and ALDOT, the ATRIP committee will continue to approve projects that will increase safety for the public and help create more economic growth and more new jobs."
ATRIP road and bridge projects require local matching funds of 20 percent provided by either the local government or through a local public-private partnership, with the remaining 80 percent provided by GARVEE bonds. The Governor's legislative proposal, to be outlined in greater detail soon, would help municipalities that are currently limited in their abilities to provide 20 percent matching funds for ATRIP projects.
At least one additional round of ATRIP funding is scheduled. Eligible projects not selected in previous funding rounds are once again eligible to be submitted. The deadline for submitting applications for the next round of funding is May 31.
Additional links show projects that were approved in 2012, along with an ATRIP fact sheet. Further information on ATRIP is available on the ALDOT web site at www.dot.state.al.us.