Phillips Road Improvement Work Funded
Chambers County’s top priority road project will become a reality next year. Tuesday, the Chambers County Commission announced that sufficient funding was now in place to proceed with the $3.5 million project. Federal funding will cover approximately 80 percent of the cost, according to County Engineer Josh Harvill. The last piece of the funding puzzle fell into place following a recent visit by Chambers County officials with Alabama Department of Transportation Director John Cooper. Cooper agreed to advance the county the $533,000 in federal funds the county would have received at a later date to round out the funding package.
The Phillips Road project was first identified as the county’s top road priority during the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program in 2013. The project couldn’t be included in the county’s ATRIP projects because of time constraints, Harvill said. The project includes widening Phillips Road to three lanes from 35th Street SW to 24th Street SW and widening County Road 299 (Cusseta Road) to accommodate an additional left-turn lane north of Phillips Road and a right-turn lane south of Phillips Road. The project will also include drainage improvements, resurfacing, traffic striping and replacement of the traffic signal at the intersection of Cusseta Road and Phillips Road. Total length of the project is .827 miles on Phillips Road and .25 miles on Cusseta Road. Chambers County Commission Chairman Debbie Wood thanked Sen. Dial for his role in securing the funds. Cooper told the county officials that he owed Sen. Dial a favor. Sen. Dial said Cooper told him the county deserved the funds.
“We know that AlDOT has a limited amount of funds, just like Chambers County, so we are so thankful that with their help, we can move forward with what we consider to be one of the more critical projects for the growth of our community,” Wood said. The commission has been setting aside the $533,000 it gets each year in federal road funds for the Phillips Road project. With the state advancing a $533,000 allocation, the county can begin work now instead of waiting another year for those funds to arrive. Wood said this would be the largest project ever undertaken by the county outside special state programs.
A lot of work will have to be done before construction can begin, Harvill said. Twenty-one property owners are affected by the need for rights-of-way and easements, he said. The highway department has already met with some property owners, Harvill said. Traffic count on Phillips Road is about 9,000 vehicles per day on a two-lane road. By comparison the county’s busiest road, Highway 29 near Walmart in Valley, has a traffic count of 24,000 per day, and that’s a four-lane highway with a center turn lane.
“We were very blessed to get state help on this project,” Wood said. The project will be an expensive one for area utilities as well. They will have to move lines and poles for the widening project. Wood said her goal is to get sewer service extended to Huguley Elementary School. She said the school has 450 students and 50 staff members, and the restrooms are on a septic tank system.
“I would like to see the county, the utility and the Chambers County Board of Education partner to get sewer service to the school while this construction is ongoing,” she said.
– By CY WOOD Editor-Publisher