Morgan County gas-tax revenue from the Rebuild Alabama program fell short of projections, likely due to reduced driving during the pandemic, forcing the Morgan County Commission to delay a planned road project.
Among the county road projects approved in 2019, a 2.22-mile stretch of Union Hill Church Road southwest of Eva targeted for resurfacing and striping will probably have to wait until the summer, District 3 Morgan County Commissioner Don Stisher said.
County Engineer Greg Bodley told commissioners at their regular meeting this week that the three other Rebuild Alabama projects in the county were completed.
He presented an annual report of the county Rebuild Alabama account that showed the county received with interest $959,776.59 in fiscal 2020 from the fuel tax money.
“We split the money among the four districts evenly with each district getting $239,944,” he said.
Stisher estimates his Union Hill Church Road project will cost between $350,000 and $400,000.
“COVID had an effect on the money collected,” Stisher said. He feels people driving fewer highway miles hurt many projects statewide. “(The money collected) hasn’t accumulated enough to pay for the project. Now it has become winter and (the project) is slated to be done this spring or summer. It’s a committed project. It’s going to be done in 2021.”
Stisher said the county is performing the prep work including shoulder cuts, pipe replacement, culverts and driveways. He said contractor Charlie Watts Inc. will chip seal the road and Reed Contracting Services will put down the asphalt.
Stisher said the project should take about 10 days to two weeks once it gets started.
“Once the construction begins there will be a delay in (residents') daily commute,” he said. “There aren’t too many detour routes there. It’s the residents’ only way in and out. … We’ll respect school traffic and will most likely start when school gets out in the spring. It’ll be a major improvement that is much needed on a well-traveled road.”
He said a 1.5-mile stretch of Frost Road between Morgan County 55 and Morgan County 35 will be his district’s next project.
“As the money trickles in, we’ll probably be doing this (planned 2021) project in 2022,” he said. “The entire road will be widened.”
Morgan County collected another $400,234.37 from the Federal Aid Exchange Fund for road projects, Bodley reported.
He said the District 1 Hudson Road/Old Moulton Road/Pleasant Hill Road project depleted all of the district’s Rebuild Alabama money. “The project is still ongoing and paying some out of the district’s (road and bridge) fund,” he said.
He said resurfacing projects in District 2 along Iron Man Road and District 4 along Tulucah Road were completed with the allocated money.
Bodley said some FAEF and Federal Emergency Management Agency money went toward a bridge replacement on Hulaco Road in District 4. He said $196,176 of the FAEF money has been spent on the bridge project to date.
“We anticipate some appurtenant cost from that project and anything left over, we’ll carry those funds forward and utilize them on the next projects,” he said. He said $204,058 in federal money will be carried over.
Bodley told the commissioners the accountability and transparency of the Rebuild Alabama program has counties listing planned projects in the August before the fiscal year begins. “In January, we have to cover what we did with the money and how much money we have left.”
The only leftover Rebuild Alabama money listed was District 3’s $239,944, designated for the Union Hill Church Road improvements.
In other business Tuesday, the commission:
• Approved using Tennessee Valley Authority surplus money to purchase $100,490 to purchase furniture and pay for renovations in the Emergency Management Agency's operations center in the basement of the courthouse.
• Accepted a bid from Lynn Layton Chevrolet of $38,629 for the purchase of a truck for District 4.
• Reappointed Commission Chairman Ray Long, District 4 Commissioner Greg Abercrombie, Trinity Mayor Vaughn Goodwin and Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling to the NARCOG board for four-year terms.