Road money hard to use

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 5, 2003

The $65,040.14 recently lost in federal road and bridge construction funds by the county is money left over from a $500,000 allotment that was received in fiscal year 2002, said Marengo County Engineer Ken Atkins. The county has had since October 2001 to use the funds.

“It just came up a little short,” after projects were designed, he said.

The county receives $500,000 in federal funds each fiscal year. There is normally up to 19 months to spend the money, Atkins said. The money requires a 20 percent match by the county.

To spend the $65,000 in question on a project would involve the matching money and also paying a consultant (as much as $10,000). There were no county road personnel available for new projects, he said. Also, the money left over from the federal funds was not enough to start any new projects.

Two paving projects (for County Road 44 and 20) are currently in Montgomery awaiting Department of Transportation approval, totaling $808,000.

Among the projects that were developed since October 2001 were three bridges on County Road (CR) 57, two bridges on CR 44, four bridges on CR 19, one bridge on CR 44, a survey of bridges on CR 53, resurfacing CR 44 and 20, and grade, drain, base and pave on the Willie Dixon Road, Gidd Russell Road, Powe Road and the Pritchett Settlement Road.

In contrast, money received from the original $3.25 “Amendment One” bond issue (passed during Gov. Don Siegleman’s time in office) does not require a match and must be spent by November 2005. “I should have all mine spent next year,” Atkins said. Once the county has finished the Amendment One projects they will be able to concentrate more on the federal funded projects. Then “this (the loss of the funds) won’t happen again,” he said.

“I would rather concentrate on the stuff I didn’t have to match.”

There is also the Three-R list of road projects the county commissioners would like to see done each year, totaling this year $581,979.

If a one-cent sales tax is ever passed in the county, Atkins said he would contract out the work for additional projects instead of hiring extra county personnel. It would be more cost efficient to just bid it out, he said.