Escambia roads slated for ATRIP funding

Published 9:17 pm Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Not every project on the wish list of roadwork for Escambia County will get funded, but after commissioners discussed the money available, only two projects were left in the cold.

With Escambia County receiving a little more than $5 million in Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP) funding, commissioners agreed to share the funds with the city of Brewton to the tune of $2.25 million — but not without some discussion.

Commissioner Brandon Smith said that although Brewton did apply for funding in round three of the ATRIP grants, he felt the amount being requested was out of line, compared to other municipalities in the county.

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“I understand where you’re coming from, but what’s good for one city is good for another,” Smith told Brewton Mayor Yank Lovelace during the meeting. “The city of Atmore got $1.2 million in the first round and they feel like that would be good for Brewton, too. With 900 miles of road in this county, this is very important to get all the funding we can.”

Commissioner Raymond Wiggins said he thought the amount of funding requested by Brewton was reasonable.

“It is fair,” Wiggins said. “Atmore, Poarch Creek Indians and East Brewton all got what they requested. I think it’s very fair and would like to move forward.”

Commission Chairman David Stokes said the idea that one city was being treated differently was disappointing.

“I don’t think Atmore is getting treated unfairly,” Stokes said. “It breaks my heart that that would even be thought.”

Commissioner David Quarker said he was aware of the issues at hand and felt everyone in the mix to receive money in the final round of ATRIP funding was getting a fair deal.

“I don’t feel that we’re being unfair to the city of Atmore,” Quarker said. “Back in round two with ATRIP, Brewton and East Brewton had accepted RAMP (Rural Assistance Match Program) funding instead. We fought for Atmore to go with ATRIP so they could get what they wanted. The city of Brewton requested $4 million, but we’re giving them $2.25 million. I think that’s fair.”

Quarker also said he hoped that future proceedings would not pit one end of the county against the other.

“I have heard some friction and hearsay about the money spent here from people,” he said. “Since I’ve been at this table, that has not happened. I want to do what is fair and right for the county as a whole and for my district as a whole. We need to get out of that mode of ‘one end of the county is better than the other end of the county.’ We need to do what we think is right and fair for the cities in this county.”

Projects to be funded with the recent ATRIP grant awards for the county will include work on Old Highway 31, Three Mile Road, Deere Creek, Airport Road, 18th Avenue, County Road 27, Huxford Road, Old Atmore Road, Kirkland Road, Sybil Lane and Old Castleberry Road.

Commissioner Larry White was disappointed that funding for two projects was not found with the recent ATRIP award. County Road 40 (Lowery Landing Road and Eddins Road), and portions of Foshee Road, County Road 27 and Butler Street were on the project list, but were left out of plans for improvements.

“I would like to ask that these projects be at the forefront if funding becomes available,” White said.

Commissioners agreed that when more funding for road projects became available, the items left uncovered from the list would be the first considered. No timeframe was given for when work could begin on any of the six county projects funded through ATRIP.