By Fred Woods
Four units of Lee County government submitted proposals for funding in round III of ATRIP. The state awarded the County as a whole 83 percent of what the various units asked for but lumped all the requests together and challenged the county to decide how to allocate the funds and to notify ALDOT how the funds would be allocated by August 23.
Lee County, under the leadership of Lee County Engineer Justin Hardee, has met this challenge with time to spare.
Last Monday night commissioners approved the plan submitted to them by Hardee, the result of work by him, Opelika and Auburn city engineers and the state conservation department. The cooperative effort saw the three county government units all cutting costs from some of their projects and the conservation department deciding to raise its local match to enable its original plan of resurfacing all of the Shell Toomer Parkway entrance to Chewacla State Park.
Lee County reduced the scope of three projects and removed one project from the ATRIP list. Resurfacing of Lee Road 54 (Society Hill Road) will be reduced by the 5.5 miles from Moore’s Mill Road (L.R. 146) to the Macon County line. The portion from LR 146 north to the Opelika city limit has been resurfaced more recently .
Resurfacing of LR 47, the Pierce Chapel Road, will be accomplished using “regular” federal aid funds and the LR 175 and LR 279 projects will be accomplished using alternative resurfacing methods.
Hardee said he was not sure about the time frame for the other jurisdictions’ projects but said the highway department would take its time in undertaking the 15 bridge replacement projects funded by the ATRIP money, considering such things as burden on citizens from detour distances and delays.
Commissioner Johnny Lawrence expressed appreciation to Hardee and the two city engineers for their collaborative efforts in getting this activity accomplished in a timely manner and for keeping “politics” out of the process.
The commission also approved a reimbursement resolution allowing the county to recover any Justice Center Expansion expenditures made within 60 days of the date the commission approves the resolution.
That means all expenditures made on or after June 13, 2013 may be reimbursed. This amount is approximately $150,000.
The commission also approved a resolution authorizing Chairman Bill English to sign a warrant purchase agreement with The Frazer Lanier Company with respect to the $8 million bond issue for the Justice Center Expansion project.
The commission also designated Aug. 29 and Sept. 9 as 2014 County Budget work sessions. The work sessions will follow the regular county commission meetings on those dates. Sept. 16, 17 and 19 were designated as additional dates, if needed. These sessions, if held, will begin at 5 p.m.
Pastor Jimmy Hobbs of the Bethany Baptist Church on Lee Road 427 (Pierce Road) near Phenix City addressed the commission about a drainage problem on his church property. Hardee reported that the drainage problem was actually on private property and that the county could take no action that would not create a traffic safety hazard.
Citizens Wes Cumbie and Rita Grub addressed the commission to express their concerns over the proposed detour route when the bridge on LR 66 is closed for replacement.
In other action, the commission:
ω Heard an update from County Environmental Services Director Chris Bozeman on the ADEM recycle application. The four cooperating entities in the county received a grant of $286,785. Lee County’s share was $118,814. The next recycle event is scheduled for Sept. 28, 2013.
ω Approved additional one-year leases for the Genealogical Society of East Alabama and the Lee County Cemetery Preservation Commission for use of the Tyner Building on Avenue A.
ω Approved several job classifications that were developed in response to changes in processes and functions or changes in technology. The personnel director stressed this was simply an updating of job classifications and was not creating new positions.
ω At the request of Hardee, rejected a single bid for a “robotic total station surveying instrument and a wireless control device.” Commissioners gave Hardee the authority to negotiate for a better price.