Grant money to fund sinkhole damage along CR 222

Mar. 30—County road crews won't have to wait for funds to come through to stay on top of major repairs along one of the area's busiest rural roads, thanks to $300,000 in emergency funding approved this week by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey.

Ivey's office cleared the Community Development Block Grant funds in response to a request from the Cullman County Commission, which has been shoring up a section of County Road 222 near its intersection with Interstate 65 after a January sinkhole opened underneath the roadway.

Though county workers have kept traffic moving by quickly repairing the surface of the road itself, the underlying drainage issues created by the sinkhole have required substantial additional funding — as well as an extended window of time to replace the 70-year-old pipe that the sinkhole collapsed. Commission chairman Jeff Clemons said the repair project is on a 45-day timeline, though he's hopeful that the weather will cooperate to hasten its completion ahead of that schedule.

"Our people will be out there six days a week, working on it until it's fixed," said Clemons. "That $300,000 from the governor will help tremendously. The overall cost will likely be in the range of $800,000, and we've been fortunate to receive help from a number of sources.

"Sen. [Garlan] Gudger got us $125,000 through their legislative fund, and the city of Cullman came through with $50,000. The tourism board also contributed another $50,000 and the Cullman County Economic Development Board has contributed $25,000. The county commission will still probably be looking at another $150,000 to $200,000 on top of all of that, so we definitely appreciate all of the extra help we've received to get this road work finished."

Especially near its I-65 crossing, County Road 222 serves as a significant transportation conduit for the nearby industrial park. "This project will further fortify this heavily traveled road and make it safe for the traveling public," said Kenneth Boswell, director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), in a press releasee."ADECA is pleased to be a partner in this project to ensure public safety for the many motorists who travel this road."

"Cullman County leaders are to be commended for their understanding of this public safety concern and their promptness in providing a temporary solution while working toward a long-term fix," Ivey said in the same statement. "I am pleased to assist with this project that will mean a safer road for those who travel it."

Benjamin Bullard can be reached by phone at 256-734-2131 ext. 234.