February target set for S3N

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 8, 2015


Plans call to realign Snowden, Moore

Alabama’s Department of Transportation (ALDOT) will likely let bids for improvements to South Three Notch in February, Tim Ramsden of CDG Engineers said Wednesday.

By then, it will have been three years since Gov. Robert Bentley announced funding through ATRIP to upgrade the street.

ATRIP is a program Bentley designed in which future federal dollars were pledged against a bond issue to fund current projects.

In February of 2013, the governor announced the awarding of $8.6 million to the City of Andalusia – a project that requires an approximate $2.1 million local match.

Ramsden said the original intent of the program was to accomplish a number of projects in a short window of time.

“Over the process, it became more evident to them it would be necessary to comply more and more with federal regulations, or cities and the state would be more in jeopardy of not getting federal dollars.”

At the same time, there were so many projects out awarded, there wasn’t enough contractors to do all of the work.

“That also drove the price of construction up,” Ramsden said. “Because of that, (the state) has slowed them down somewhat.”

Additionally, this project is administered differently than other road projects that have been funded through ALDOT, Ramsden said.

CDG submitted a scoping document in January of 2013. After the project was funded, engineers went through a design process that included traffic analysis and geo tech.

“We had a 90 percent set of plans in January of ’14,” Ramsden said. “In March of ’14, we had a meeting here with DOT to go through the plans. We had the project designed as a four-lane road with turn lanes. They wanted us to change to a three-lane road.

“Now, it does make sense to do that,” Ramsden said. “Studies show four-lanes are more dangerous than a three-lane. With a turning lane in the center, now there is protection to get out of the way.”

So the project went back to the drawing board. ALDOT also wanted engineers to align Moore Road with Snowden.

“They wanted the right-hand turn to be 90 degrees,” he said. “We had to acquire property to do that.”

Mayor Earl Johnson said Dr. Billy Tisdale graciously donated the property needed to make the turn a right-angle.

“Our hats are off to Dr. Tisdale for donating that property to the city in order to accomplish improving that,” Johnson said.

The land transactions were completed in March of 2015.

“We were ready to turn in another brand new set of plans in May,” Ramsden said. “DOT wanted another scoping document, so it was put on hold again. We did that. That was not approved until mid-August of 2015.”

At that point, Ramsden said, it appeared the project would be on track to be in the December bid letting. However, the project has not received its final review.

“The next deadline for us to hit is Nov. 20,” Ramsden said. “Now it looks as if the project will be let on Feb. 26 of 2016, assuming DOT approves our plans and keeps on schedule.”

If bids are let in February, it would mean construction would begin in late April or early May. The project is expected to take 240 to 270 working days, depending upon weather, which means 14 to 15 months, Ramsden said.

“Just like on River Falls Street, everything inside the right of way will be replaced,” Ramsden said. “Everything will be redone, and be brand new.”

Meanwhile, the city has set aside its $2 million-plus in matching funds.

“We have our matching funds in the bank,” Johnson said. “Assuming bid comes in within the parameters we are expecting it to come in, we are good to go.”