Dale engineer shares benefits of ATRIP-2

By Michelle Mann mmann@southeastsun.com

Dale engineer shares benefits of ATRIP-2
“If you are satisfied with the condition of your county roads, call your legislators and tell them the roads are in good shape.“But please don’t tell them that Dale County has plenty of money,” Dale County Engineer Derek Brewer told those attending the Dale County Commission’s public hearing on the Association of County Commissions of Alabama’s proposal for a way to improve the state’s rapidly deteriorating roads.The public hearing, held Feb. 28 in Daleville, was among informational hearings being held statewide to explain the benefits of the second Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program, called ATRIP-2.The new plan comes on the heels of the first ATRIP which allowed cities and counties to undertake hundreds of federal road and bridge projects. “Some roads that were not eligible for ATRIP funds will be eligible under ATRIP-2,” said Brewer.The ATRIP-2 bond issue would generate $1.2 billion for Alabama’s 67 counties and be used exclusively for road and bridge improvements within each county, with 80 percent of the money going to county roads and 20 percent going directly to municipalities within the county.The legislation would prohibit the money being used for salaries, equipment or for construction other than road projects. It would also require periodic reporting on the projects and the 3-cent tax increase would expire on June 30 following the repayment of the bonds, which is expected to be 15 years.Dale County would get $14.8 million under ATRIP-2, Brewer said. “This would allow Dale County to resurface approximately100 miles of roads.”The bond issue provides for 20 percent of the funds to be allocated to the municipalities within each county. Initial estimates are that the city of Daleville will receive $539,249, the city of Level Plains will receive $212,338, the town of Newton will receive $153,882, the town of Clayhatchee will receive $59,984, the town of Pinckard will receive $65,891, the town of Midland City will receive $238,715, the town of Napier Field will receive $36,051, the town of Grimes will receive $56,827 and the town of Ariton will receive $77,806.“Federal and state revenue has been flat since 2005, not including the one-time stimulus funding in 2009-2010,” Brewer said. “My budget has been the same since 1995. It hasn’t gone up a bit.”A variety of reasons have resulted in counties receiving less revenue from the state’s allocation of the gas tax, Brewer said, citing increased fuel efficiency in vehicles and less driving on the part of consumers.Whereas a 1994 Honda Accord got 21 miles per gallon city driving and 27 miles per gallon on the highway, a 2013 Honda Accord got 27 miles per gallon in city and 36 miles per gallon on the highway. “Your car gets more miles per gallon so you’re using less gas, which means less revenue for us,” Brewer said.“If you drive 12,000 miles—the national average—and you figure half city and half highway driving, you consumed 508 gallons of gas and you paid $185 in gas tax in 1994,” Brewer said. “If you drove that same mileage in 2013, you consumed 389 gallons of gas and you paid $142 in gas tax.“Gas tax revenues are going down and the expense of everything that we do for road repair and the cost of materials is going up.”Brewer said that ATRIP-2 is currently in the hands of state legislators and that a final version has not yet been drafted. He encouraged citizens to contact their local legislators.“Your legislators need to hear from you,” Brewer said, adding that any assumption that counties have “plenty of money” is false.“All we know for sure is that our roads are failing,” Brewer said. “And they are getting worse and worse.”
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