CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

July 19, 2013

Cullman soon to learn if repair money available for Convent Road bridge

By Tiffeny Owens
The Cullman Times

— Cullman will soon learn if it will get state funding to make extensive repairs to a bridge that’s being called the worst in the city.

Cullman submitted the project to overhaul the more than 60-year-old bridge on Convent Road over Eight Mile Creek for the third round of Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program’s funding. Alabama Sen. Paul Bussman, R-Cullman, who serves on the state transportation committee, said Gov. Robert Bentley could announce the latest projects awarded funding within the next week or so.

Often called the “Waterfall Bridge,” the Convent Road bridge is rated a 12.5 out of 100 on the state’s bridge safety scale. A bridge can be closed until repairs are made at a 10 rating, while anything below a 5 rating is condemned immediately. Officials estimate the work to cost at least $1 million, though the ATRIP grant would cover the brunt of construction costs. The city’s remaining construction and design expenses could total about $500,000 by the time the project is complete.

“The work is badly needed,” Bussman said. “That bridge is probably in the worst shape of any in the city.”

Good Hope is also seeking ATRIP funds in the third round to pave Day Gap Road from Beach Grove Road to Interstate 65, as well as Cullman County 587. The city’s cost for the resurfacing of Day Gap Road would be roughly $78,000, according to Mayor Corey Harbison, while work on CR-587 would cost approximately $120,000. If approved, Harbison said matching funds from the project would be paid for through an existing loan the city has.

While Cullman and Good Hope wait for word from Bentley, other cities and the county are moving ahead with road projects that received funding in two previous rounds. The most significant project will be the $10.5 million construction of an interchange at CR- 222 and Interstate 65. To cover the nearly $1.3 million match, the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce will put up 70 percent of its local lodging tax revenue and the county, Cullman, and Good Hope will each pay 10 percent of the remaining balance.

“The state is working on the engineering, and it’s in the property acquisition phase,” Harbison said . “Next will be utilities and then construction.”

Meanwhile the county has just finished paving two sections of CR-222, from Alabama 69 to CR-109 in Breman and from CR-310 to CR-410 in Trimble, said John Lang, assistant county engineer. Now it’s focusing on preliminary planning documents to submit to Alabama Department of Transportation for its second round of projects that total nearly $18.5 million. Those include:

* paving of CR-565 and installation of guardrails from CR-490 to Hanceville city limits.

* paving CR-747 from the Blount/ Cullman county line to CR-1545.

* paving CR-1101 from the Lawrence/ Cullman county line to Alabama 157.

* paving CR-1435 from the Morgan/Cullman county line to Alabama 157.

* paving CR-1223 from U.S. 31 to CR-1242.

* paving CR-698/55 from Alabama 91 to Holly Pond town limits.

* paving CR-1669 from Fairview town limits to Alabama 69.

The county must provide a nearly $2.9 million match, with the remaining $15.6 million to be paid with ATRIP funds.  

“We’ll have our hands full once all these projects get going,” Lang said.

Good Hope plans to start work on its $1.1 million bridge replacement project on Beech Grove Road over Bavar Creek next summer, Harbison said. The city will have to put up $227,529.14 in matching funds.

Vinemont has a $233,176.40 project to add turn lanes and a median crossover to U.S. 31. Mayor Melba Patton said she anticipates work to get underway later this year. Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail said the city has paved a mile-long stretch of Commercial Street, from Alabama 91 to the city limit, with the $181,833 grant it was awarded in the first round. The project required a $36,366.60 local match.

ATRIP is funded through federal bonds issued under the Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle, or GARVEE, bond program. That program allows states to borrow against their federal highway allotments in future years to finance immediate-need road project.

Tiffeny Owens can be reached at towens@cullmantimes.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 135.