MONTGOMERY - It would take you about 15 hours behind the wheel and more than 1,000 miles to drive from Montgomery to New York City, but that's how many miles of road Alabama's county governments plan to improve next year with the proceeds of the new gasoline and diesel fuel taxes being paid by motorists.
Looking closely at the 2019-2020 work plans adopted statewide, counties are scheduled to improve 1,013 miles of crumbling county roads and to perform long-overdue maintenance on 20 failing county bridges. Based on these figures, the Rebuild Alabama Act is set to increase county road and bridge work by nearly 140 percent and 60 percent, respectively, in the next 12 months.
"Clearly, the Rebuild Alabama Act is making an immediate impact on Alabama's transportation system," said Sonny Brasfield, executive director of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA), which has collected and analyzed the county plans. "County engineers and elected officials have been busy laying the ground work, and now, it's almost time for the public to see the evidence in their local communities."
Brasfield explained that the first proceeds of phase one of the implementation of gasoline and diesel fuel tax increases will be distributed to counties in late December. He predicted the bids for the first projects will be received in December and work will begin in most counties in the spring.
"The replacement of asphalt is weather-dependent, so we don't expect work to begin on the first day that funds are received, but counties will be ready as soon as things warm up next spring," Brasfield said.
He pointed out that some construction activity, such as right-of-way improvement and bridge construction, may begin before the resurfacing of county roads.
Brasfield said the Montgomery-to-New York City improvement schedule is "not a one-time construction but should be the new standard in Alabama county government."
Calling Rebuild Alabama funding a "game-changer" for county infrastructure, Brasfield said he expects 2020-2021 plans to replicate this year's impressive schedule.
Copies of all 67 county plans, as well as bid announcements later in the year, can be found on the ACCA's website, www.alabamacounties.org.
Established with strict requirements for transparency with and accountability of fuel tax dollars, the Rebuild Alabama Act will provide county road maintenance budgets their first increase in nearly 30 years and help point counties back in the right direction toward a recommended 15-year road resurfacing cycle and 50-year bridge replacement cycle.
According to an ACCA infrastructure report released earlier this year - prior to anticipated Rebuild Alabama funds - county governments had reached a 114-year road resurfacing cycle and only had the funding to resurface 738 county road miles in 2020. Additionally, counties have 3,915 bridges over the age of 50 and in need of replacement and, in 2020, were going to be able to replace less than 34.
County governments are responsible for maintaining 62 percent (60,487) of Alabama's centerline road miles and more than 54 percent (8,661) of our state's bridges.
The Association of County Commissions of Alabama is a statewide organization speaking for all 67 counties with ONE voice. It promotes improved county government services in Alabama, offers educational programs for county officials and their staff members, administers insurance programs for county governments and employees, offers legal advice, and represents the interests of county government before state and federal organizations and agencies.