Council eyes bridge project; approves digital billboards

Published 9:04 am Monday, March 21, 2016

A bridge on Jackson Street may soon be replaced as the Demopolis City Council heard an update from an engineering firm working on the project during Thursday’s council meeting.
Jeremy Jones of Neel-Schaffer Engineering said his firm is preparing to submit plans to the Alabama Department of Transportation for approval and that work could begin on the project in about six to eight months.
The city is receiving ALDOT RAMP (Rural Assistance Match Program) funding for the construction of the bridge, but will be requited to pay other expenses related to the project, such as engineering fees. The state will be paying approximately $1.3 million while the city’s portion of the costs will be about $452,000 with the city having already paid about $139,500 toward the project.
“The bridge has deteriorated to the point were serious repairs were needing to be done on a consistent basis. We were spending about $200,000 every few years for repairs. It is to the point where we could either keep spending big money to do the repairs or spend big money for a new bridge,” said Mayor Mike Grayson.
According to Jones, previous plans calling for a retaining wall with the bridge was driving up the cost of the project. He said lengthening the bridge to provide slopes, rather than the retaining wall, would actually decrease costs.
The bridge is located just prior to Collins Communication heading west on Jackson Street.
With the beginning of the project being six to eight months away, Grayson asked Jones if the city would be in jeopardy of losing the grant money due to time. “As long as we are showing diligence in moving the project forward I can’t see that funding going anywhere else,” Jones said.
In other business, the council also approved a zoning change that will allow for digital billboards within the city. The change was submitted to the council after being approved by the city’s board of adjustments.
The change follows a request for a sign to be located on Hwy. 80 East, near the Parr’s Chevron in a V-shaped area at the intersection with Hwy. 43. Following a first public hearing, the council approved the measure by unanimous vote.