FLORENCE — City officials are cautiously optimistic that money for a major street and bridge project in west Florence will be available from a state grant.
At a meeting Wednesday of Downtown Florence Unlimited, Mayor Mickey Haddock said he and others are in regular contact with Alabama Department of Transportation officials about the remaining grant money. The city and Lauderdale County received about $7 million from the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and
Improvement Program earlier this year.
The program is commonly known as ATRIP.
Haddock said about $250 million remains in the program to be awarded this summer, and the city and county are poised to apply for more money. He said the city’s share would be used to begin widening West College Street and building a bridge over Cypress Creek that would link downtown to Alabama 20 and the sports complex. The cost of the project is estimated at $20 million.
“If we get the money, we must break ground one year later, and that will be a challenge,” Haddock said, “because we have to work with the Corps of Engineers” on water and environmental issues concerning the creek.
City engineer Bill Batson said West College, from Dr. Hicks Boulevard to West Mobile Street, will be five lanes, as will be the street on the west side of the creek. The bridge will have four lanes, he said.
The plan also calls for a greenway along the creek with walking trails, and will be bicycle and pedestrian friendly, he said. If enough money is available, a pedestrian overpass on Alabama 20 to the city sports complex could be added, he said.
“The transportation department wants this project, too, because it solves some issues for them,” Batson said. “It provides a more direct route into the city from Alabama 20. It’s a corridor to U.S. 72.”
In the last round of ATRIP grants, Florence received almost $4 million to rebuild the road bed and relocate utilities on Wood Avenue. The county received about $3 million that is being used to replace rural bridges that are not weight rated to support school buses.
In the ATRIP program, local governments must pay a 20 percent match to receive the money. Florence agreed to pay the county’s share of the match so both can remain eligible for the next round of grants.
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.