Alabaster seeking grant to help with 119 widening project

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – The city of Alabaster will know in the coming months if it will receive millions of dollars in grant funding to help offset the higher-than-expected cost of completing a project to widen Alabama 119 south of its intersection with Fulton Springs Road.

Alabaster’s City Council voted during an early July meeting to enter into an agreement up to $15,000 with the Goodwyn Mills and Cawood engineering firm authorizing the company to submit the grant application on the city’s behalf.

As a result of the agreement, Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood will apply for a Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development Transportation Discretionary Grant from the United States Department of Transportation. If awarded, Alabaster’s grant could be up to $25 million, and will help after the cost of the project came in higher than initially expected, project engineer Keith Strickland told City Council members previously.

In April, project managers said the Alabama Department of Transportation was ready to move forward with acquiring right-of-way for the project, which likely will take multiple years.

In December 2017, Alabaster City Manager Brian Binzer said Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood had designed 60 percent of the widening project, which was the threshold required to present the plans to ALDOT.

Binzer previously said the city must acquire about 40 pieces of property along the 119 corridor to allow the project to begin construction, and estimated the acquisition phase will take between nine and 12 months after beginning this year.

Because the project is using federal dollars, the city must have all right-of-way in hand before construction can begin.

In 2014, the council approved a contract with Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood to conduct a topographic survey and corridor study for a project to widen the highway. Plans call for the road to be widened to five lanes – Two travel lanes in each direction and a center turn lane – along the nearly two-mile stretch between Fulton Springs Road and just south of Veterans Park.

In 2012, the state approved about $10 million in funding to widen the section of Alabama 119 through its Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program. Initial plans call for a 10-foot-wide multi-use path along one side of the road.

The city also previously applied for a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant through the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham to help offset the city’s matching funds on the widening project.