Thanks to the state’s new gas tax law, which takes effect Sunday, Houston County officials hope to rehabilitate 49.87 miles of roads within the next 16 months.
Houston County Commissioners adopted its version of the Rebuild Alabama transportation plan Monday, a document the state requires the county to craft in order to receive the new gas tax revenues. Lawmakers passed the new levy, which adds 6 more cents in tax to each gallon of gas, in March.
Officials believe the new law will generate about $850,000 in revenue for Houston County in the first year, but a tenet of the statute allows the county to apply up to half of those funds toward a bond payment, said Houston County’s chief engineer Barkley Kirkland. Officials drafted the plan based on the proposed procurement of a $5.4 million bond, which they believe will cover 19 different road projects.
While some projects involve resurfacing efforts, many employ triple surface treatment, a product that seals cracks in roads and prevents moisture from causing further damage to surfaces, Kirkland said. He said the treatments preserve roads for between 12 to 15 years, though factors like traffic volume can affect longevity.
The county’s plan also includes rehabilitation efforts for the municipalities of Ashford, Kinsey, Taylor, and Rehobeth, which have agreed to share their gas tax revenues with the county in exchange for project assistance. An agreement with Webb may be pending, Kirkland noted.
Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver said the new law requires stringent reporting and updates, and smaller municipalities may not have the skills or resources to develop those. In those agreements, county staffers provide project management assistance.
“A lot of the towns do not receive enough money in one year to do large projects,” said Culver said. “When they partner with us, it goes further.”
Some of the larger projects on the list include the following:
>> Spot leveling, triple surface treatment, and traffic stripe/markings for 14.09 miles of County Road 8 between County Road 55 and County Road 95 at an estimated cost of $780,800.17.
>> Leveling, triple surface treatment, and traffic stripe/markings for 6.34 miles of County Road 75 North from U.S. Highway 84 to County Road 33 – $614,729.78
>> Spot leveling, resurfacing, traffic striping/markings, and other improvements for County Road 33 South between Alabama Highway 53 and Lucy Grade Road – $579,434.62.
A full list of projects has been posted to the front page of the county’s website, houstoncounty.org.
Culver said county officials have not conducted many discussions on the bond issue yet since the proposed projects will not start until late spring or early summer next year. Cold and wet weather conditions preclude most road projects in winter months.
Counties will not likely receive any new gas tax revenues until December, Culver said.
The county’s first plan will last until January 2021, when the first of a string of annual plans must be adopted, Kirkland said.
In addition to the new gas tax, the county will continue to receive funding for road projects through the Southeast Alabama Metropolitan Planning Organization. Other funding sources are also available, Culver said.