Rebuild Alabama Act made road projects possible, says county engineer

Published 10:00 am Thursday, January 13, 2022

At the Chambers County Commission meeting on Monday, County Engineer Josh Harvill went over a resolution to accept the Rebuild Alabama annual report for fiscal year 2021, which the commission approved.

Harvill said the Rebuild Alabama Act requires the county commission to receive a report from the county engineer during the first commission meeting of every January on how Rebuild Alabama Act funds were used.

“In fiscal year 2021, the county received $696,575.21 in county Rebuild Alabama funds,” he said. “We carried forward from fiscal year ‘20 a balance of $92,366.64. We also received $800,000 of federal aid exchange funds. Of those funds we received, we completed three projects.”

Harvill clarified that the county funded three projects and completed two of them.

“One of the projects that was completed was the Phillips Road project, which was not a very long project,” he said. “It’s only .91 miles long. So obviously, there’s an immense amount of improvements that are [needed] to be done in Huguley.”

For the Phillips Road project, the county used $800,000 in federal exchange funds from the Rebuild Alabama Act.

Harvill said the county spent $57,014.18 in Rebuild Alabama funds on improving County Road 75, which is south of LaFayette and is 1.34 miles long.

“We replaced the bridge on County Road 267, south of Fredonia,” he said. “$500,000 of Rebuild funds were used on that project.”

Harvill said the county typically uses combined funds to complete a lot of its road projects because each funding source doesn’t provide enough money for the project. He said the total cost for replacing the bridge on County Road 267 was over $100,000 more than what the Rebuild Alabama funds supplied. He said the project would have been impossible without Rebuild Alabama funds.

“So overall, we’ve improved 2.25 miles of roads,” he said. “We replaced one bridge. We expended $1,357,014.18, and we’re going to carry over as a balance of fiscal year ‘22 that can be used as a part of that transportation plan $231,927.67.”

In other business at the meeting, the commission approved a resolution to reclaim CR 59 to gravel from CR 54, north approximately 0.7 miles to the intersection with CR 58.

“This is no reflection on Mr. Harvill or the highway department,” Commissioner James Williams said. “What we want the public to understand when we put these roads back to gravel, this is the best thing we can do at this time. We have so many roads in Chambers County that were paved 50 years ago.”

Williams said the county hasn’t been able to keep some roads in good shape.

“The County Highway Department is doing the best they can do with the money and the personnel that they have at this time,” he said. “So, my hats off for what they do.”

Williams said the roads the county is putting back to gravel aren’t roads people should live on.

The commission approved a resolution to authorize the highway department to assist the Chambers County Board of Education with pothole patching on Vocational Drive from Avenue A south approximately 600 feet. Funding for this will be provided from line item 001.58300.297 of the general fund.

Harvill said the project cost wouldn’t exceed $7,500.

The commission approved a resolution to execute an agreement to participate in a joint bidding program for counties participating in the Investing in Alabama Counties program, a program of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama.

“What it would allow is for different supplies and materials to be bid out on a joint bid that would have all the counties that are participating in the American Rescue Plan,” County Attorney Skip McCoy said.

The commission also approved a resolution to appoint County Manager Regina Chambers as program director for American Rescue Plan projects.

Toward the end of the meeting, McCoy brought up a six mil ad valorem tax.

“In regards to our six mil ad valorem tax, that has completed all the necessary publications,” McCoy said. “The actual publication affidavit has been delivered to the representative and delegation. It’s been prefilled with the legislature, and the session will open tomorrow. So, we’re looking forward to hopefully getting that passed early on in the session.”

McCoy said if the tax passes, three mils will go to the board of education and 3 mils will go to the county in regards to roads.

Harvill announced that the county had closed County Road 187, just west of County Road 299/ Cusseta Road on Monday to replace a pipe. He said the road was expected to be reopened the next day, after which the county would replace a pipe on County Road 54.

Due to the recent surge of COVID-19 cases, the Jan. 24 commission meeting will be streamed live on Facebook. It will begin at 4 p.m. CT. The work session at 3 p.m. CT on the same day will also be streamed on Facebook.