In recent weeks, there have been discussions around the state regarding road and bridge funding, and the methods by which the money is distributed to county governments. The discussions revolve around the ideas of new funding sources as well as modifications to existing sources.
It is no secret that the costs of goods and services have increased throughout the years and funding sources have remained stagnant. There is a need in Cherokee County for additional revenues with which to fund much needed road and bridge projects in order to provide safe and efficient travel to the citizens of Cherokee County. This is not an issue faced only by Cherokee County—but by all counties in the state.
On Tuesday morning, members of the Cherokee County Commission, Cherokee County Highway Department and two local legislators, Senator Phil Williams and Representative Richard Lindsey, toured several roadways and bridges in the north Cherokee County to get a firsthand look at the needs of Cherokee County.
Two of the bridges crossing County Road 17 were constructed in the late 1950’s—and both were in obvious need of replacement. The estimated cost to replace the two bridges would be around $1.2 million.
According to County Engineer Corey Chambers, the county maintains 120 bridges in Cherokee County, half of which are at least 40-50 years old and need attention. Chambers addressed the current bridge replacement costs compared to the costs from 20 years ago.
The group traveled along County Road 36, which was recently repaved through the ATRIP program (Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program), and up County Road 70 to Cherokee Rock Village.
There was no need to stop and discuss the needs for County Road 70, as they were clearly felt just by driving on the rough surface. Each year, Cherokee County’s four commissioners have the arduous task of choosing which roads in the 812 mile county road network to repair or repave.
The cost of paving has increased from $38,106.07 per mile in 1992 to $94,378.39 per mile today. This only complicates paving decisions at the county level as the paving money simply does not go quite as far as it did previously.
At the end of the trip, the group sat down to discuss the needs of the County and the possibility of solutions out of Montgomery.
Hopes remain high that the needs at the county level will be addressed during the next legislative session. We can all agree that the needs are apparent in every county. What is left to be seen is the solution to address those needs.
To follow along with the statewide county road and bridge situation, visit www.driveal.org.