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Henry County leaders provide update on road improvements

Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 4:39 PM CST
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HEADLAND, Ala. (WTVY) - County road conditions are one of the biggest challenges Henry County Commission Chairman David Money is facing.

Dozens of roads throughout the county are in need of repair. Money says the main issue is funding.

“If you got the money you can do it, it’s not that we don’t want to do it,” Money said. “It’s not that we hadn’t planned to do it, but the money is just not there.”

Money says the 2019 Rebuild Alabama Act gas tax has helped bridge a funding gap. The gas tax will increase to 10 cents later this year.

“When a full year has passed at 10 cents per gallon, we’re looking at about $670-thousand out of the Rebuild Alabama money,” Money said.

But is it enough?

“Sounds like a lot, sounds like the answer to our problems,” Money said. “But 670-thousand dollars will pave between 3 and 4 miles so it takes a lot of money there.”

Abbeville and Headland city leaders are also working to improve their street conditions.

“We’ve just applied for (a grant), you’re talking about street paving, to help us pave about 3-3 ½ miles of city streets,” Abbeville mayor Jimmy Money said. “With our Rebuild Alabama tax, we’re looking into probably another five miles long-range, down the road. And a small town like us, you get five to six miles of paving that just about does away with all your bad roads. Dothan, it wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference. But with us it would make a tremendous amount of difference. And that is one of the things we’re working on is to give back to the people some things that we think they deserve.”

“How we looked at it in Headland, we identified our worst streets,” Headland mayor Ray Marler said. “We had Cleveland Street, Mitchell Street, East Church Street, that’s just naming a few. What we did is we looked at what we would start bringing in on the (tax). So we knew interest rates were low so we sent bids out and we bid what we would take to pave 8 streets. When those bids came back in, we were able to get a grant from Rebuild Alabama to help offset some of the loan. And so what we did is a ten year note, borrowed against the revenue that we had coming in. So we’d take that revenue and we’d apply it to the street money that we borrowed and make that payment out. We have short streets, so we can take that 600-plus thousand and do a lot inside the city versus what he can in the county. So that’s how we are attacking our street problems now.”

Back in the county, Money says phase one of the commission’s road improvement plan is complete but there is still a lot more work left to do.

“We have five commissioners,” Money said. “And we all agreed that County Road 55 that kind of goes down the center of the county was our number one need, based on traffic and accident data and condition of the roads. So we pledged every bit of that first years money to County Road 55 and was only able to do 134 North, which is 5.3 miles.”

Money said as part of the next phase, bids will be accepted as the County moves forward with repaving the other portion of County Road 55 next.

Henry county has received more than $470-thousand since January 2020 from Rebuild Alabama funding.

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