Infrastructure bill money could fund county projects

New Fish River bridge, extending Beach Express, widening 64 among projects needing money

By Guy Busby, Government Editor, guy@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 4/27/22

ROBERTSDALE — While one source of federal funding is not feasible for extending the Baldwin Beach Express, other programs in the new infrastructure bill could provide needed money for local county projects, officials said Thursday, April 21.

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Infrastructure bill money could fund county projects

New Fish River bridge, extending Beach Express, widening 64 among projects needing money

Posted

ROBERTSDALE — While one source of federal funding is not feasible for extending the Baldwin Beach Express, other programs in the new infrastructure bill could provide needed money for local county projects, officials said Thursday, April 21.

At a meeting of the Baldwin County Commission Road and Bridge Committee, Joey Nunnally, county engineer, said the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill includes $284 billion in additional funding for projects.

He said officials have not received complete details on many of the programs but are waiting for notifications to see if Baldwin projects could be eligible for funding.

Nunnally said one program could provide some needed funding for the project to extend the Baldwin Beach Express from Interstate 10 to Interstate 65.

The Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient and Cost Saving Transportation includes $7.3 billion in funding.

"This may be a potential project for BBE II, a potential pot of money for BBE II from 10 to 65," Nunnally said. "This project grant, if you read the program purpose, it says support planning, resilience improvements, community resilience and so we're keeping a real close eye on that one to see if BBE II will fit into that."

County officials had hoped for funding through another program in the bill, the MEGA, INFRA Rural Program. That program, however, required the local agency to contribute 40% of the costs. The estimated cost of the project is $250 million meaning that the local match would be $100 million, Nunnally said at an earlier meeting.

"The idea was to not chase after this money since we were going to have to come up with the 40% match," he said Thursday.

County officials are also looking at another program, the Surface Transportation Block Grant to help widen Baldwin County 64 from Alabama 181 to Montelucia Way in Daphne. The STBG includes $72 billion for projects across the country.

The Bridge Investment Program will provide $12.2 billion nationwide. Nunnally said one project that could be funded by that program is the replacement of the Baldwin County 32 bridge over Fish River.

"When the notice of funding opportunity comes out, there's a lot more detail that comes with that about the program and we'll be able to figure out just how that division will work out with that program," Nunnally said.

The Safe Streets and Roads for All program includes $5 billion for projects to prevent transportation related deaths and serious injuries on roads and streets.

Nunnallly said county officials have been talking to the Alabama Department of Transportation about seeking some of that money for improvements at the intersection of Alabama 104 and Alabama 181 in Fairhope.

"We're getting a lot of development going on there with the hospital and Publix, subdivisions and everything else that's popping up there, so we thought this might be a good pot of money for ALDOT to tap into to help improve that intersection," Nunnally said.

The Rebuild American Infrastructure Sustainability and Equitably Program, or RAISE, is for $7.5 billion. Nunnally said that program is being considered for the Baldwin Area Multi-Modal Safety Project to extend the Baldwin County 65 corridor north from Foley to Summerdale and to build sidewalks in the area.

The Transportation Alternative Program, known as TAP, will have $1.4 billion. County officials hope to apply for some of that money to continue extending sidewalks on Baldwin County 1, Nunnally said.

The Bridge Formula Program for $26.6 billion could help pay for work on the Lawrence Road bridge, Nunnally said.

The Federal Lands Access Program for $1.4 billion, pays for work on local roads leading to federal lands. Nunnally said that project could help pay for improvements to Mobile and Veterans streets near the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Gulf Shores.

County officials are also looking at two programs, the Carbon Reduction Program at $6.4 billion and the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Grants at $1.2 billion, to help pay the cost of building charging stations for electric vehicles in Baldwin, Nunnally said.

Commission Chairman Jeb Ball said highway officials should keep track of the programs as information is released.

"I just appreciate you staying on top of it," he said. "It's just money that we've got to take advantage of and whoever we've got monitoring every single day of the week. It's stuff we can't miss out on if it's feasible to do."

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