Mayor still pursuing stimulus funds

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Late word from Montgomery is that the Alabama Department of Transportation doesn’t plan to share any of the stimulus money it received for road and bridge projects with counties and municipalities.

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson isn’t accepting “no” quite so easily.

“It ain’t over yet,” he said.

In February, the council entered an agreement with CDG Engineers to complete design work for improving River Falls Street in which CDG agreed to share the risk for the project. The company agreed to defer half of its engineering fees, or $113,585, until the project is funded. If it is not funded, the city won’t be responsible for that share of the costs.

At the time, both the city and CDG were operating with the belief that the state would grant some of the money from the 2009 Economic Recovery Act to municipalities or cities that had shovel-ready projects. Johnson said Tuesday the city had been encouraged by state DOT officials to complete the design phase and have the project ready when stimulus money began flowing.

Tim Ramsden of CDG told the council Tuesday that the firm delivered the preliminary plans to Montgomery last week.

“Now we’re being told that this project won’t be funded in this year’s stimulus package,” he said. “The state’s now saying they expected to get $1 billion, but only got $513 million.”

Johnson told council members he had been informed of the DOT’s current stance late Tuesday and, by the time the council met, had already scheduled a Monday meeting with DOT director Joe McInnish and House Speaker Seth Hammett.

“What DOT is saying now is not what they were saying two months ago,” Johnson said. “$513 million is exactly what they thought they would get.”