By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News
Gardendale is a direct beneficiary of a state plan that will bring millions of dollars to Alabama in the form of improved roadways.
One of Gov. Robert Bentley’s biggest projects is the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP), which uses federal funds to repair bridges and roads. So far, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) has approved 439 projects, valued at $613 million.
Gardendale had one project listed in the first round of grants approved in 2012: The resurfacing of Fieldstown Road from Interstate 65 to Jew Hollow Road.
In January, the state released the next round of approved ATRIP grants, where Gardendale had four more projects approved:
• Resurfacing Mt. Olive Road from Fieldstown Road to Mt. Olive Boulevard
• Resurfacing Shady Grove Road from Fieldstown Road to Carrington Drive
• Installing traffic signals at Fieldstown Road and Interstate 65, upgrading the five existing traffic signals on Fieldstown Road from Interstate 65 to U.S. Hwy. 31 and possibly installing two new signals
• add new eastbound and westbound turn lanes on Fieldstown Road at Shady Grove Road and installing a traffic signal at the intersection, and realign Cornelius Drive to make a 90-degree intersection on the north side of Shady Grove.
The total cost of the five projects is more than $2.6 million.
ATRIP funding requires the sponsor — the city or county — to pay 20 percent of the total cost, so Gardendale’s portion is almost $528,000.
Phillips said that is not a bad price to pay for $2.6 million worth of work.
“The grant was a true blessing,” he said. “I thank Gov. Bentley for his help; he’s the one who promoted the program.”
Phillips said the only roads eligible for the grants were those that fall under the jurisdiction of ALDOT; those that Jefferson County in 2009 announced it would no longer maintain due to a lack of funds.
“We applied for these grants to offset that,” Phillips said. “We weren’t expecting to be hit with the county not paving their roads.”
In addition to those five projects, Gardendale has received a separate grant from the Metropolitan Planning Organization to repave Fieldstown Road from Interstate 65 to U.S. Hwy. 31. That grant was for $660,000, with Gardendale paying a 20-percent match.
The repaving of that portion of Fieldstown Road will start as soon as the rain lets up, according to Phillips.
He said the almost $2.8 million in grants means Gardendale can use its own money on other projects.