Costs of transportation projects in Jackson County could tally $10 million or more by the time all three phases of work are completed over the next few years.
Phase 1: $5 million
Phase 2: $4.49 million applied for
Phase 3: Applications due May 31
Source: Jackson County government
Jackson County, Ala., has settled on a funding source for multimillion-dollar transportation projects after shuffling through ideas in hopes of lightening the burden on county taxpayers.
County leaders recently discussed switching funding sources from the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program to the Rural Assistance Match Program.
Jackson County officials say Rural Assistance funding is capped at $5 million but requires no local funding match, while Transportation Rehabilitation money can be more plentiful but requires a 20 percent local match.
Transportation Rehabilitation funding already is secured on the first phase of county projects and it will be the funding source for other projects under three of the county's municipal governments, according to County Commission Chairman Matthew Hodges.
Rural Assistance also would not fully fund all three phases with a total cost well over $10 million, officials said.
"We voted to go with the ATRIP program because there were some towns in the county that wanted to participate," Hodges said last week of funding for upcoming phase 2 projects that could total almost $4.5 million, with the county kicking in almost $1 million in its match.
A decision by the county to use Rural Assistance funding would have limited municipalities' applications for Transportation Rehabilitation money, according to officials.
Even though Transportation Rehabilitation requires a local match, officials believe the county's public works budget can cover it, Hodges said.
"The second round is where the funding issue comes into play," he said. "We think we can do that within the budget for public works for our part. Depending on the project, we'd be able to spread it over this year and next year."
Hodges doesn't think the Rural Assistance funding idea will resurface for phase 3.
"We're committed to going with ATRIP," he said. "That's the best decision for everybody in the county."
Work is starting on one of four projects in phase 1, and state officials will decide on phase 2 projects across the state on Jan. 25, county engineer Philip Widner said.
Applications for third-phase projects are due to the state at the end of May, he said. The state will announce the phase 3 project list on July 10.
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...