A southbound bridge on U.S. 31 near Hartselle, described as “functionally obsolete,” will likely be replaced when the new fiscal year starts Oct. 1, according to Allen Teague, a preconstruction administrator with the Alabama Department of Transportation.
“Plans to replace the bridge are about 95%,” Teague told the Metropolitan Planning Organization during its monthly meeting Thursday.
The MPO board voted to add the project to its Transportation Improvement Program, but “it’s a state project, and the state will handle it,” MPO Director Dewayne Hellums said.
ALDOT spokesman Seth Burkett said replacement plans have nothing to do with the safety or integrity of the bridge. He said when the state classifies a bridge as functionally obsolete it could be due to a number of factors, such as a bridge having very little shoulder space or not having guardrails.
“It just doesn’t meet the standards for a bridge if we were constructing it today,” Burkett said.
The bridge, which is just outside the Hartselle city limits over Cedar Creek, was constructed in the 1930s when U.S. 31 was called Bee Line Highway. The estimated replacement cost is about $2.5 million.
According to MPO records, the state is providing a $510,000 match to go with $2.04 million in federal funds.
Teague said the state is obtaining rights of way, and its initial plan to start the project this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, was pushed back because other bridge projects were ready to start and consumed available funding.
“We are allotted so much funding each year for bridges, and it will be replenished Oct. 1,” he said.
Teague didn’t know at this point whether ALDOT would replace the northbound bridge or how long it would take to replace the southbound bridge when construction starts.