The name of the program is the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program, which is quite a mouthful. It’s called ATRIP for short, and it’s a federal aid highway program that funds up to 80 percent of the cost of construction of important roadway projects. Municipalities and county governments were eligible to submit projects for which they were willing to provide at least a 20 percent match. While Lincoln and Talladega were the only municipalities that had grants approved, county projects near other cities will help other areas benefit.
Perhaps the biggest improvement will be a new road that will provide more direct access to I-20 from Alabama 21 in Munford. It’s possible to get there now, but not easy. To get from the Munford post office to Exit 179 is just five miles, but involves four turns, narrow residential streets, and a winding two lane county road. There’s not even a sign around Munford directing drivers to the I-20 exit — it’s just too complicated for drivers not familiar with the roads, and not a recommended route for trucks. A new bridge and a connecting road are to connect the state highway to Priebes Mill Road, a move that will make interstate access more convenient to Munford even if it doesn’t bring in new homes or businesses. But it probably will.
On the south end of the county, a portion of the Sylacauga-Fayetteville Road is to be resurfaced. That section of road sees a lot of traffic now as the main corridor to the area’s quarries and related businesses. Imerys, Omya and Heritage Plastics are a few of the of the larger businesses on the road, and the new IKO roofing plant is scheduled to be in full operation in just a few months, so improvements to the roadway will be much appreciated.
At Childersburg, the Fay S. Perry Road is also getting resurfaced, which will be of particular benefit at Central Alabama Community College, Childersburg High School and Childersburg Middle School.
Speedway Boulevard’s resurfacing will help make a good impression on the hundreds of thousands of visitors who attend events at the Talladega Superspeedway as well as on industrial prospects looking for locations near I-20.
Another major improvement will be the widening and resurfacing of Magnolia Avenue in Lincoln. Just off the interstate, and with Honda-fueled growth taking place in the area, it’s a gateway to the city that offers opportunities for retail and service locations in the not-too-distant future.
There are four bridge replacement projects. While they won’t open up new development opportunities, we do rely on them. Three are in the city, where weight limits forbid even school buses from crossing, and one is on the only road into a residential area. The other is on the lakefront, crossing Choccolocco Creek on Stemley Road, a critical traffic artery in the Lincoln area.
Altogether, it’s $14.5 million in road and bridge work, with the contracts to be let next year. The program's goal is to address critical needs projects across the state, and these projects are certainly important to Talladega County. Area officials have done a commendable job of planning ahead to take advantage of this grant application opportunity.