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County bridge and road projects finalized under RAMP program

Eight bridges have been approved to move forward with improvement projects in Chilton County under the Rural Assistance Match Program (RAMP).

Gov. Robert Bentley announced on Monday more than 250 road and bridge improvement projects throughout Alabama will now be able to receive the improvements under the RAMP program.

RAMP allows additional counties to take part in Bentley’s statewide road improvement initiative, called the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP).

Previously, 61 of 67 counties had received ATRIP funding and with the new projects announced on Monday, all 67 Alabama counties have now received ATRIP projects since Bentley established the program in 2012.

“Already, ATRIP is making a positive difference in communities across the state,” Bentley said in a release. “Now, thanks to RAMP funding, every single county in Alabama will have better roads. I don’t want school buses to have to go around bad bridges. I don’t want communities to be limited by outdated roads.”

Bentley said improving roads and bridges would improve public safety across the state and lead to more job creation.

“As we improve roads and bridges in rural areas, we’ll make those communities more attractive to companies that are looking for places to build and expand,” Bentley said in a release. “These companies need good infrastructure to transport their products and that is exactly what ATRIP is giving them.”

ATRIP was established by Bentley to help local areas access funding needed for essential road and bridge improvements. The RAMP initiative is available to counties that are unable to meet the 20-percent local funding match required to participate in ATRIP. To complement ATRIP, RAMP was established by Senate Bill 192, which Bentley signed into law in April.

The first priority for funding in each RAMP county is the replacement of county bridges posted for school bus traffic and eligible for federal funds. If all eligible bridge replacement needs are fulfilled, local governments are then able to request funding for other road improvement projects deemed eligible to receive ATRIP funding.

Chilton County engineer Tony Wearren said on Wednesday that all projects to be considered for RAMP were due Dec. 9, 2012.

A list released Monday confirmed Chilton County was approved for 17 projects for a little more than $5 million with eight bridge replacement projects deemed a priority.

“Each county submitted a list of projects and a priority basis for the projects,” Wearren said. “All of the projects then went to a committee and the committee selected what projects would be approved.”

Under RAMP, counties and cities are eligible to receive up to $1 million in state funds to match an additional $4 million in federal funds. RAMP allows ALDOT to sell bonds to provide the local match to participating counties and cities.

Counties taking part in RAMP previously had no projects, or only limited projects, as part of ATRIP due to limited local funds. In all, 22 counties are eligible to participate in RAMP based on current local funding needs. With Bentley’s announcement on Monday of 254 RAMP projects, the total number of road and bridge improvements announced under ATRIP so far is 693.

According to the list, the eight bridges in Chilton County listed as a priority in the order they will be worked on include: a bridge on County Road 2 over Mahan Creek, a bridge on County Road 255 over River Branch, a bridge on County Road 32 over Walnut Creek, a bridge on County Road 535 over Mountain Creek, a bridge on County Road 232 over Benson Creek, a bridge on County Road 478 over Cargile Creek, a bridge on County Road 822 over Flat Branch and a bridge on County Road 214 over Spur Mulberry Creek.

Wearren said a specific date for when all of the bridge projects will be completed is difficult to estimate due to bridges having a lengthy process before completion.

“Getting a bridge finished takes a long time because there is so much red tape involved,” Wearren said. “There are a lot of steps including historical studies, endangered species studies and hydraulic studies that have to be completed before work can be done to fix a bridge.”

However, Wearren said work had already been started on the first bridge listed on the list along County Road 2 over Mahan Creek.

“We have already started the drawings for the first bridge in the project and the next bridge we will be working on along County Road 255 will not be as difficult to finish,” Wearren said.

After the bridge projects are completed, other projects approved for Chilton County include resurfacing county roads 29 and 48, restriping county roads 54 and 73, adding a culvert on County Road 42 in Jemison, resurfacing Highway 22 bypass in Maplesville, resurfacing County Road 50 in Thorsby, adding turn lanes on county roads 42 and 44 in Jemison and resurfacing Medical Center Drive in Thorsby.