Several road projects completed in 2014

Published 5:08 pm Friday, December 12, 2014

Several road projects were completed in Chilton County in 2014 with plans for many more covered under the Rural Assistance Match Program (RAMP) to be completed in 2015.

“We anticipate all of the projects for RAMP to be completed in 2015, including the construction of eight bridges, two major routes and striping of County Road 73,” Chilton County Engineer Tony Wearren said. “What happened this year was there was such a high volume of counties who received RAMP money sending in their projects to the state to be approved. That made everyone get behind, and it has taken a lot longer than anyone originally anticipated.”

RAMP allowed counties and cities to be eligible to receive as much as $1 million in state funds to match an additional $4 million in federal funds.

RAMP allows Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) to sell bonds to provide a local match for participating counties and cities.

Chilton County received $5 million for projects to be completed under the RAMP program.

In all, 22 counties were eligible to participate in RAMP based on current local funding needs.

Gov. Robert Bentley announced in May 2013 that 254 RAMP projects were expected to be completed in Alabama.

Wearren said there were no major issues this year to prevent road projects to be completed, such as previous years with heavy rains or flooding.

“We did have some really heavy rain at the beginning of this year that completely washed away a road in Verbena,” Wearren said. “We had to close that road and fix everything, but it has since been taken care of.”

The road Wearren was referring to was County Road 515 where the road department replaced culverts on the road that were washed away and later reopened the road.

Other projects completed this year include:

•The paving of County Road 46 from County Road 2 to County Road 109, approximately 2 miles.

•The paving of County Road 315, a church road in Stanton, approximately 0.5 miles.

•Replace a rated bridge on County Road 341 with a non-rated culvert now allowing unlimited traffic on this road.

•Removed a bridge on County Road 352 that will be replaced in the RAMP program in 2015.

•Design and drawings completed on the resurfacing project for County Road 54, awaiting ALDOT review and letting of project.

Wearren has also spent much of the year working to reclassify roads in the county to major collectors, which are eligible federal and state money.

The Alabama Department of Transportation publishes a map of each county with a classification system for each road every couple of years.

Some of the various classifications include a major collector road with more than 500 cars traveling along the road daily, a minor collector with roughly 200-500 cars traveling on the road and unclassified rural routes, which are regular roads, not heavily traveled throughout the county.

In 2013, Wearren noticed that when the classification system was originally done for Chilton County more than 50 years ago by ALDOT, nothing had been changed about the classification system throughout the years.

Now, one of the ways to gauge traffic count is by a county-owned traffic counter determining the number of cars traveling along specific roads each day.

Wearren has spent time studying the traffic counter to determine which roads need to be reclassified that will in turn be eligible for federal aid money from the state.

Some of the eligible improvements on a major collector road include resurfacing, restriping and widening.

The state provides 80 percent of the funds with the county having to match 20 percent so Wearren works to reclassify some of the roads that were previously determined to be a minor collector into a major collector.

“So far, this year, we have had 16 roads re-classified with 10-12 of those being upgraded to a major collector,” Wearren said. “A lot of it has to do with the fact that we are a bigger county than we used to be. More people travel along certain roads and those roads that were once classified a certain way can be moved up in classification, and we can qualify for money for those.”