County misses out on ATRIP funds, secures road money through CDBG grants

·3 min read

Jan. 22—No Cullman County proposals made the cut in qualifying for the year's first round of gas tax-funded road grants under the Rebuild Alabama Act. But that doesn't mean state dollars aren't flowing to local road projects from other sources.

A day after announcing more than $40 million in ARTIP-II awards in a round of funding that skipped Cullman County, Gov. Kay Ivey announced an additional $18 million in infrastructure funding through the income-based Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

Cullman County did receive a combined $900,000 in road improvement funds through the CDBG awards, including $500,000 for street and drainage improvements in the neighborhood near Warnke Road in Cullman, as well as $400,000 toward a resurfacing and drainage project along County Road 18 near Bremen.

"County Road 18 is a heavily used road that goes from Alabama Highway 91 to the Walker County line at Union Grove, and we learned yesterday that we had been awarded the $400,000 for that project," Cullman County Commission chairman Jeff Clemons said Friday. "I believe that will make up more than 60 percent of the total cost of that resurfacing project, which means that's $400,000 that local taxpayers aren't being asked to come up with to pave a local road.

Clemons said the county road department plans to begin work on CR 18 as soon as possible, in order to close out the associated CDBG grant to make room for the next one — which, he hopes, will be a separate grant to fund the repaving of County Road 783 just south and west of Holly Pond.

"We just put in for a grant for County Road 783 between Walter and Holly Pond, and if we receive that, it would also be from CDBG funding," he explained. "There's not a lot of grant money for roads right now, but the way I look at it is, if we can help any part of our county bring money back for our roads, it saves taxpayers here. It's money we don't have to take out of our General Fund. The important thing for people to understand is that, if we don't get this money, it's still going to go somewhere. We want it to go to Cullman County."

One local government that didn't receive ATRIP funding in Ivey's recently-released list of newly-funded projects is Good Hope, which had applied for an award to place lighting at the new County Road 222 interchange at Interstate 65.

Alabama House Rep. Corey Harbsion, who opposed the establishing of the gas tax that created the ATRIP program in 2019, said he still encourages local municipalities to apply for the funds. "Although I voted against the tax originally, and there are things that, to this day, I'd have done differently, this is the way it is and we might as well try to bring as much of that money home as we can," he said Friday.

"For that reason, I do encourage all of our local municipalities in the county to apply. You're definitely not going to get funded if you don't apply."

Though Cullman County didn't receive fresh ATRIP funding in the current round, neighboring Winston County did receive funding for a pair of separate projects. The City of Double Springs received just more than $1 million for a project to add a left run lane and extend the adjacent right turn lane at the intersection of Alabama State Route 33 and County Road 24; while Winston County received $2 million to resurface U.S. Highway 278 from State Route 13 to State Route 5.