Road work needed

This is one area at the intersection of Jason Road and Drew Road that will be repaired when they get the road work started. 

Collins Drive, Jason Road, Lara Drive, Drew Road and Caroline Drive will be getting some major work done soon.

Bob Pirando of the Marshall County engineering department said that the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) is a competitive grant program that all of the 67 counties in Alabama have access to. The Marshall County Commission applied for paving funds in April or May of last year after the Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments (TARCOG) brought it to their attention that they had some extra funds for paving projects.

At the time, Pirando spoke with each of the commissioners about the funds available. There were some restrictions, with the grant geared towards low to moderate income families on existing county roads.

Commissioner Bill Stricklend had a good candidate for funds located down Highway 79 South. Pirando does not believe that the road had been paved since the 1980s. Commissioner Ronny Shumate from District 1 said that someone told him 1982, but neither could confirm that.

“In my 28, going on 29, years here, we have never paved that subdivision,” Pirando said.

On the grant application, it shows that 242 people will benefit from the paving with approximately 94 percent of those being low to moderate income. TARCOG planners went door to door with a survey and most of the people were willing to respond to their questions.

After TARCOG conducted the survey, the subdivision qualified for the program. Commission Stricklend submitted the application and in October of 2018, they were told that they qualified for a $350,000 grant. Shumate said that it took approximately 14 months from the starting process to the point that they are at right now.

Pirando said that his office prepared the plans for the project which basically consisted of widening, leveling and resurfacing the existing roads. After they were approved, the plans were drawn up by Pirando and his team at no charge to the Commission.

TARCOG did some environmental review because it is a federally funded program. There were not any issues in regards to the environmental review.

In March, the application was approved to do the program. From March to May, they have put plan togethers and sent them to TARCOG and the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA). Both organizations reviewed and approved the plans.

As required by the Public Works Law, the engineering department advertised the project. Pirando said that they had two bids. The lowest bidder was Wiregrass Construction Company Incorporated of Guntersville. The second bidder was Whitaker Contracting.

The bid came in over what they had originally estimated. The total cost was $491,343. They are at the point now where they will be issuing a notice to proceed and then will hold a pre-construction meeting.

The project is subject to start before fall, but there is no concrete date yet. Shumate would love for them to be able to start and finish before school begins, but that is proably  optimistic. The length of the project is only 1.5 miles.

These roads are in bad need of being repaired, Shumate said. The only issue he has with the repaving is the chert pits that are behind either side of the road. Once the road is paved, trucks traveling to the pits will be using the roads, which could destroy them faster.

After redistricting, this particular area became part of District 1. This location was once part of District 3.

Shumate said that after the next redistricting, his district could extend all the way into Douglas. Right now, District 1 has the most road mileage at 360 miles. He likes to call it 720 miles because there are two sides to each road. He laughed and said that people would be mad if they only bush hogged one side of the road and not the other so that is why he doubles the mileage.

The project should take approximately 60 working days to complete. Pirando said that they do not include Saturdays or Sundays, rain days or other days with circumstances beyond their control. He believes that once they get started, it should be a quick project.

Shumate said that he would like to see them finish as quick as Aldridge Gap was completed.

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