County goes after federal road dollars

Shelby County hopes to get money for several multi-million dollar road projects when Washington leaders revisit the Federal Transportation Bill this summer.

Every few years, Congress passes a transportation bill, aimed at improving the country’s infrastructure. The current $286 billion dollar bill expires in September.

U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus has asked cities and counties in his district to come up with a list of road needs. The projects could potentially be included in the new bill, which is already starting to take shape.

Shelby County’s wish list includes adding lanes to busy highways and building new bridges.

County Engineer Randy Cole said these projects would be almost impossible to fund without federal dollars.

The county wants help with the following projects:

-Adding lanes on Highway 11 in Alabaster from U.S. 31 to Highway 52.

-Building more lanes on Highway 11 from Highway 52 in Alabaster to Highway 280 in Chelsea.

-Adding lanes on Highway 26 in Alabaster from Alabama 119 to U.S. 31.

-Realigning the intersection of Highway 39 and Highway 47 at Chelsea City Hall and replacing a nearby railroad bridge.

-Building more lanes on Highway 52 from the Shelby County and Jefferson County line to Alabama 261 in Helena.

-Adding lanes on Highway 52 from U.S. 261 in Helena to U.S. 31 in Pelham and building a new railroad bridge over Buck Creek.

The improvements would cost an estimated $258 million. While the county doesn’t expect to get that much, officials are seriously seeking funding for some of the projects.

To better the odds of actually getting money, the county has proposed a local match of up to 20 percent. The county has also set aside $6 million in reserve, in case Shelby County is given an appropriation.

“Those projects are extra large,” said Cole. “The match will increase odds of getting funding.”