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U.S. Highway 31 project in Hartselle receives state funding

By Marian Accardi

For the Enquirer

Hartselle Mayor Randy Garrison said U.S. Highway 31 improvements are moving forward with state funding to reduce hazards on the congested road and boost the local economy.

Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Transportation announced last week that more than $45 million in funding is being awarded to cities and counties for road and bridge projects, including a project in Hartselle to modify the existing median on U.S. Highway 31 from Curry Street to Sparkman Street, adding left turn lanes and deceleration lanes.

“Traffic continues to grow on 31,” Garrison said. The improvements on the road will “make it safer and will encourage economic growth and development.”

The state money is to go toward the first phase of a two-phase master plan. In the second phase, Sparkman Street at its northern end will merge into U.S. Highway 31, and a traffic signal will be added, Garrison said.

The state money is made available through the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program-II that was created under the Rebuild Alabama Act. The Rebuild Alabama Act requires ATRIP-II to be an annual program setting aside a minimum of $30 million off the top of ALDOT’s share of new gas tax revenue for projects of local interest on the state highway system.

Motorists started paying 2 cents more per gallon for gasoline Oct. 1 when the second phase of the state’s 10-cent tax increase went into effect. The increase was passed by the Legislature in 2019.

Of the $1.85 million U.S. 31 project, about $1.5 million will come from the state, and Hartselle will provide $331,696. Garrison said Hartselle’s share will come from the city’s general fund.

“We wouldn’t be able to do the project at this time without the ATRIP money,” Garrison said.

Twenty-seven projects were selected for funding by the ATRIP-II Committee created by the Rebuild Alabama Act. State Sen. Arthur Orr. R-Decatur, who is a member of the committee, said it reviewed the submitted projects last week.

“This (U.S. Highway 31 project) will organize traffic flow a lot better,” Orr said. “Right now, you have to cut through the median.”

Of the awarded projects, 20 were from cities and counties contributing local funds, for a total of about $15.7 million, but matching funds were not a requirement to be eligible.

It is anticipated some projects will be under contract during fiscal 2021, but all projects are required to move forward within two years of the awarding of funds.

Garrison said he hopes the city will bid the project this year.