By Fred Woods
Opelika Observer

Lee County received nearly $20 million of funding for resurfacing 42 miles of road and replacing 15 bridges under the three rounds of ATRIP (Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program). The program, administered by the state transportation department (ALDOT) and funded by future federal highway program dollars, had the goal of improving state transportation infrastructure (roads and bridges) by accelerating project funding for critical transportation needs.
As of Oct. 5, six projects which resurfaced 36 miles of road and nine bridge replacement projects have been completed. Contracts have been let for the remaining two resurfacing projects, totaling six miles and three of the six remaining bridge projects and are awaiting the start of construction.
The remaining three projects, all bridge replacements, are currently in various stages of the design and right-of-way acquisition process. These bridges are located on Lee Roads 137 and 393 (Wire Road), in the southwestern part of the county and LR 144, over Little Uchee Creek in the south central part of the county. All right-of-way acquisitions must be completed and construction contracts must be let by December 2018 to meet ATRIP requirements.
County Engineer Justin Hardee said he saw little problem in meeting that deadline, although, “… the right-of-way acquisition process can always be a little interesting, to say the least.”
ATRIP moneys covered 80 percent of the cost of the projects with 20 percent coming from the county. Hardee credited Highway Department personnel with working diligently to meet all ATRIP deadlines to date and assured commissioners that “we will not be losing any funds that were awarded through this program.”
The commissioners also granted a variance for a residential development on LR 401 in southern Lee County regarding highway outlet spacing requirements for flag lots. Flag lots are those where the bulk of the lot is located away from the road and connected to the road by a relatively long and narrow strip.
Mr. Hardee also submitted to the commission draft amendments to the county’s “Subdivision and Land Development Regulations” which would alleviate the need for similar variances in the future if adopted by the commission.
Wendy Swann, County Governmental Relations and Safety Coordinator, reported that the county had met all requirements to qualify for the ACCA Safety Incentive Discount Program and asked that the chairman be granted authority to sign the current year verification form. Motion to allow passed unanimously.
Mr. Hardee also reported that the Columbus-Phenix City Metropolitan Planning Organization passed their 2018-2021 Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) containing proposed funding for five Lee County resurfacing projects totaling 21.8 miles and over $4 million in federal funds (subject, of course, to a 20 percent county match) over the next four years. There is no assurance that these funds will actually become available but, if they do, they would be in addition to regular federal highway aid dollars.
In other action, the commission:
– approved, on a 3 – 2 vote, purchase of a one-third page ad, at a cost of $1,564, in Business Alabama magazine and
– announced land purchase disclosures on the county’s web site regarding the purchase of land for recreational purposes in the Beulah and in the Beauregard areas in accordance with Alabama state law.