Governor Robert Bentley on Wednesday signed
into law Senate Bill 192, which will help more counties participate in the largest road and bridge improvement program in
Senate Bill 192 establishes the Rural
Assistance Match Program (RAMP). RAMP will be available to counties that
are unable to meet the 20 percent local funding match required to participate
in ATRIP, the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement
Program. ATRIP was established by Governor Bentley in 2012 to help local
areas access funding needed for essential road and bridge improvements.
"ATRIP is improving public safety by replacing old bridges
and repairing and widening outdated roads," Governor Robert Bentley said.
"Better roads and bridges help a community attract new jobs. When companies
look for places to build and expand, they look for good infrastructure.
So while ATRIP is improving public safety, it's also helping improve our
"Some counties have not been able to participate because of
limited funding," Governor Bentley added.
"Thanks to this legislation, those counties now have the resources available to
participate in ATRIP and receive much-needed improvements."
Under RAMP, counties and cities that are unable to meet the
20 percent local funding match required to leverage federal ATRIP funds are now
eligible to receive up to $1 million in state funds to match an additional $4
million in federal funds. RAMP allows the Alabama Department of
Transportation to sell bonds to provide the local match to participating counties
Since Governor Bentley formally unveiled his ATRIP
initiative, 439 road and bridge projects have been announced. To date, 61
of Alabama's 67 counties have received ATRIP funding for various road and
bridge projects. With the RAMP program, all counties are now eligible to
receive ATRIP funding.
The six counties that have not received ATRIP projects so
far are Fayette, Hale, Lawrence, Marengo, Wilcox and Winston. Other
counties that have received limited ATRIP funding and are also eligible for
RAMP assistance are Barbour, Bibb, Bullock, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa,
Crenshaw, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Lowndes, Marion, Perry, Pickens and
Randolph. In all, 22 counties are eligible to participate in RAMP based
on current local funding needs.
"As a member of the ATRIP Advisory Board, I am pleased to
see more rural counties have the opportunity to be eligible to receive
financial assistance to improve roads and bridges in their areas," Lieutenant
Governor Kay Ivey said. "These projects play a vital role in the
long-term economic impact of local communities and the state."
The first priority for funding in each RAMP county is the
replacement of county bridges posted for school bus traffic and eligible for
federal funds. If all eligible bridge replacement needs are fulfilled,
local governments would also be able to request funding for other road
improvement projects deemed eligible to receive ATRIP funding. All bridge
and road projects must be eligible for federal assistance to be considered for
ATRIP or RAMP funding.
ATRIP is expected to distribute up to $1 billion in federal
funds during a three-year period for eligible projects submitted by
participating counties and cities throughout Alabama. The ATRIP funds
will be provided up front by GARVEE bonds and repaid by future federal highway
funding appropriations. The use of GARVEE bonds makes strong financial
sense as the low cost of borrowing is generally lower than the rising cost of
inflation on construction projects. GARVEE bonds also allow the state to
make needed improvements without raising taxes.
State Senator Paul Bussman (R-Cullman) and State
Representative Mac McCutcheon (R-Huntsville) sponsored the RAMP legislation.
"This RAMP legislation is a critical piece in the repair and
replacement of many of the dangerous bridges in rural Alabama," Senator Bussman
said. "By doing this work now, the State of Alabama and the 22
participating counties will be able to save a great deal of money while doing
10-15 years' worth of bridge and road work in a short period of time. It
will significantly improve school bus route safety as well as improve the
farm-to-market access corridors."
"In addition to providing taxpayers with the quality roads and bridges they expect and deserve, this initiative will provide Alabama with the transportation infrastructure we need in order to compete with other states in industrial recruitment and job creation," Representative McCutcheon said. "Making these road and bridge improvements available to each county and area of the state will also ensure that Alabama's important transportation decisions will be based on priorities and not politics."
INFORMATION SOURCE: Governor's Press Office