Cullman City Council

Cullman City Council Pro Tem Jenny Folsom talks about the 2018 budget during a September meeting.

The City of Cullman is looking to get some help from Cullman County in securing more than $1.2 million in funding for sidewalk upgrades along First Avenue downtown.

On Monday, the Cullman City Council approved a resolution that would have the city cover the required matching funds for a Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant which the county would apply for through the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT). Cullman is already applying for a $800,000 TAP grant — $640,000 in state money and $160,000 in local funds — to rehabilitate and construct new handicapped accessible sidewalks along First Avenue.

With the county’s help, the two entities will be able to maximized their local matching funds, potentially getting $1,280,000 for “a little over $200,000 of our money,” said City Council President Garlan Gudger Jr. 

“Instead of two linear blocks, we’ll be able to do four,” he said during Monday’s special-called meeting. 

The city has also hired longtime collaborator, CDG Engineers and Associates, Inc., to develop, plan, and design a downtown sidewalk improvement plan along First Avenue. The project would run the length of downtown Cullman’s business district, from the Festhalle Marketplatz to the Busy Bee Cafe. 

If awarded TAP grant money, it could fund new pedestrian lighting, sidewalks, brick inserts, flower beds, benches and other aesthetic touches to make downtown more walker-friendly. Additional parking will also be considered as part of this latest project. Gudger said the county would still have to vote on whether to apply for the grant, but officials were hopeful it would be approved. 

Earlier this year, crews worked to unearth old sidewalks, dirt and digging for a multipurpose upgrade from Fifth Street to Seventh Street South along U.S. 31 in front of the Cullman County Courthouse.The project has been in the works for several years and includes new pedestrian lighting, sidewalks, brick inserts, flower beds, benches and other aesthetic touches along the thoroughfare.

The city has steadily been expanding its streetscape programs through a series of grants and local matching funds to expand downtown’s convenience for pedestrians as well as to improve the appearance. Since the 2011 tornado damage, reinvestment in downtown has surged with some businesses rebuilt and others the result of new business ventures.

A federal grant through the Transportation, Community and System Preservation program of more than $350,000 paid for the recent phase of the U.S. 31 streetscape program, with the city and county splitting matching funds. 

In other business, the Cullman City Council:

Approved minutes from Nov. 27 meeting.

Approved City Attorney Roy Williams’ request for outside legal counsel in regards to the city’s claim against manufacturers and wholesale distributors of opioids and to prosecute the claim. Williams said the measure is a part of a statewide and national effort. 

The next Cullman City Council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Dec. 18, with a work session preceding it at 6:30 p.m.

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

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