- Cullman, Alabama

March 2, 2007

Council approves measure

$14.4 million in federal funding will be requested

By Evan Belanger

During a special meeting Friday, the Cullman City Council unanimously approved a measure to request nearly $14.4 million from the federal government.

If approved, the money will be used to fund five local road and utility projects, including a proposed highway project to bypass traffic from U.S. Highway 278 south of the city.

According to council documents, if all five appropriations are approved, the city will pay nearly $4.6 million in matching funds, bringing the total amount to nearly $19 million.

According to Mayor Don Green, the Council hopes to spend at least some of the requested money during the 2008 fiscal year. He said the city has the money available to meet the required match.

“We may have a little trouble funding them all at once, but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he said.

Specifics of the bypass — dubbed the “Southern Bypass” in council documents — were fairly unclear Friday.

Green said it will likely break away from 278 east of town, passing south and linking back up on the other side. It could also link with Ala. Highway 69 and utilize Gulf Course Road at some point, he said.

“Several routes have been discussed,” he said. “I don’t think everyone agrees on a single route though.”

The bypass will be four lanes wide, he said.

The appropriation request for the bypass calls for nearly $4.9 million from the federal government and $1.2 million to be paid by the city, bringing the total to more than $6 million.

Other road projects proposed in the appropriations request, include $1.2 million to widen 278 from two to four lanes, from Fourth Avenue in Cullman to 69 east of the city.

If approved, the city will pay approximately $300,000 in matching funds for the project, bringing the total to $1.5 million. The proposal includes widening the St. Bernard Bridge.

A third road project proposed in the request calls for the widening of County Road 222 at the I-65 interchange, west of the city.

The city is requesting nearly $6.6 million to complete the project with an additional $1.6 million match from the city, bringing the total to $8.2 million.

The project has been in the works since 2004, when Topre America located its plant in the adjacent industrial park. In January, Rep. Neal Morrison, D-Cullman, announced the 222 project was a priority and work would probably begin sometime this summer.

For utility projects, the Council requested nearly $8.7 million to replace aging sewer and water lines in the downtown area and more than $9 million to extend additional sewer services to Cullman Industrial Park No. 5, east of town.

It is the same park where Yutaka Technologies is currently building a new auto-parts plant. The two requests come with matches of $708,583 and $737,702 respectively.

It is not clear when or if all of the projects will be funded. The requests will be officially sent to Rep. Robert Aderholt’s, Washington D.C. office.

“I think everyone [on the council] is aware that we’ve turned in some requests for some these wish-list items,” said Council President Woody Jacobs during the meeting.

“Seeing as some of these are kind of pricey though, the mayor thought it best to get the council back together to make sure everyone is 100 percent on board,” he said.