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County to issue bonds for road and bridge repair


The Chambers County Commission took action last week to put the county in position to provide local matching funds for the state’s ATRIP program. ATRIP (Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program) is a major statewide road and bridge construction program proposed by Gov. Robert Bentley that offers local governments millions of dollars in state funding to repair bridges and roads.

ATRIP calls for a 20-percent match by local governments and the commission voted unanimously to issue $3 million in bonds to provide a match for up to $15 million from the state.

The money will be borrowed on a 15-year term, with the county paying only interest over the first five years. By the time principal and interest payments have started, the county expects to have its existing indebtedness retired and will have sufficient cash flow to make debt payments.

County Attorney Skip McCoy said the low interest rates attracted the county to issue what are legally gasoline tax warrants. The funds the county receives from the state’s gasoline tax disbursements secure the warrants. The average interest rate is around 2.25 percent, with the rate ranging over 15 years between 2.0 and 2.5 percent.

County Engineer Josh Harvill said that if the county is able to secure ATRIP funds for all it’s submitted projects, approximately 50 miles of the county road system can be upgraded. Harvill also noted that the state funds could only be used for projects that quality, so none of the money can be used on dirt roads or most rural highways and subdivision streets in the county.

Though the county can fund as much as $15 million in improvements, Harvill noted that there is no guarantee all the projects will be approved.

Also at last weeks meeting, commissioners heard a request from the town of Waverly for assistance in a storm shelter. Waverly received a $95,000 grant to build a storm shelter that could protect up to 96 people (there are no storm shelters in Waverly now) and resident Marcus Morman asked the county to consider doing some site preparation and dirt moving that would help provide the local match for the project in in-kind services.

Morman also introduced Waverly’s new mayor, Ron Bashant, an Air Force retiree who has moved to the community and gotten involved very quickly in the three years he has been a resident.