U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), a senior member of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, today announced conference committee approval of funding for several projects in West Alabama included in the fiscal year 2008 spending bill. The Senate will consider the bill following approval by the House of Representatives. It will then be sent to the President for his consideration.
Tuscaloosa Downtown Revitalization - $4.2 Million
This funding will go towards projects on both 21st Avenue and University Boulevard. The 21st Avenue funding will widen the two lane portion of the roadway and provide turning lanes and improved pedestrian access from downtown to the city’s riverfront. It will also serve the proposed redevelopment area, including a new Federal Building, Municipal Complex, a new city park, and a new downtown parking deck. The road widening and sidewalk improvements, along with updated traffic signals, new pavement and handicapped ramps will greatly enhance accessibility to downtown for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
Currently, University Boulevard varies in width from five lanes to two lanes with a dedicated center turning lane in some areas. The accessible pedestrian access along this roadway is very limited. The project will provide an improved street crossing section, new paving, updated traffic signals, safe on-street parking for the downtown, easier access from downtown to I-359 and more efficient handicapped accessible sidewalks and ramps.
“This ongoing project will make a significant impact on Tuscaloosa’s economy,” said Shelby. “The development will bring more businesses, activity and economic investment to the area, making Tuscaloosa a better place to live and work. As the downtown area’s economy continues to grow, it is critical that the downtown roadways are expanded to meet the increased usage and ease the traffic issues often associated with growth.”
Lamar County Industrial Park - $560,000
This funding will improve the infrastructure needed for industrial development and growth in Lamar County and surrounding region.
“Currently, Lamar County lacks industrial park property for any prospective industries,” said Shelby. “It is critical that communities have a strong infrastructure in place to attract new businesses and bring jobs to the area. The construction of this industrial park is critical to the future economic growth of the county and surrounding area.”
City of Hamilton Fulton Bridge Industrial Park - $700,000
The City of Hamilton will use these funds to develop the Fulton Bridge Industrial Park. Located at Exit 14, the park will be the largest industrial park between Birmingham and Memphis on Interstate 22. The city purchased the 250 acre tract in 2003 and has completed an additional $40,000 in preliminary development costs. The site is expected to create between 500-1,000 new jobs.
“The area between Birmingham and Memphis will benefit greatly from the development of this industrial park,” said Shelby. “The industrial park is a great opportunity for the entire region and will attract numerous jobs in the years to come.”
Alabama Association of Area Agencies on Aging– $700,000
There are 13 Area Agencies on Aging in Alabama, each of which provide important services to the elderly across Alabama.
“Many of our state’s seniors are without the resources necessary to drive to their medical visits, the grocery store or to see family and friends,” said Shelby. “The Alabama Association of Area Agencies on Aging provides the essential service of helping Alabama’s elderly get to where they need to go.”
In addition, the bill provides funding for the following projects included in Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), the Highway and Transit Reauthorization Bill.
University of Alabama Transportation Hybrid Electric Vehicle and Fuel Cell Research Program - $500,000
This project will allow the University of Alabama to tackle the challenges and opportunities that face hybrid electric vehicle and fuel cell development.
“Increased science and research is our best hope for decreasing energy costs,” said Shelby. “This funding will allow the University of Alabama to maintain and improve its comprehensive research program to conduct cutting-edge research and to educate scientists and engineers in this growing industry.”
University of Alabama Intermodal Facility - $2.328 Million
This funding will be used to construct an Intermodal facility on campus.
“This money will be used to build an intermodal facility to ease on-campus congestion,” said Shelby. “The proximity of this facility to on-campus housing will also provide for a safer and more secure campus for students. This facility will benefit the students, faculty and staff of the University.”
University of Alabama Transit System - $388,000
This funding will enhance and expand the University’s ground transportation system.
“The University of Alabama Transit System will provide a full scale, intermodal system for the transport of individuals around campus and surrounding Tuscaloosa community,” said Shelby. “The system will enhance safety and lessen congestion on campus, while also meeting the needs of this growing college community.”
University Transportation Center at the University of Alabama - $650,000
This project will fund transportation education and research.
“These funds will be used for a University Transportation Center at the University of Alabama, which will conduct research involving transportation education and technology,” said Shelby.
Tuscaloosa Bypass - $6.25 Million
These funds will be used to construct a corridor connecting the Black Warrior Parkway Bridge with Rice Mine Road and Interstate 59.
“The construction of a the Tuscaloosa Bypass will create a corridor connecting the Black Warrior Parkway Bridge with Rice Mine Road and Interstate 59,” said Shelby. “This transportation route will improve access and improve traffic flow throughout the metropolitan Tuscaloosa area.”
City of Tuscaloosa Intermodal Facility - $1.552 Million
This funding will be used to construct an intermodal facility in downtown Tuscaloosa.
“These funds will provide Tuscaloosa with an intermodal facility to accommodate increased traffic in the downtown area,” said Shelby. “This facility will serve as an important complement to the ongoing downtown revitalization project in Tuscaloosa.”
Interstate 85 Extension - $22.5 Million
This funding will go towards the planning, engineering, design and construction of the East-West highway corridor stretching from Montgomery to Cuba, Alabama.
“This critical funding will go towards the planning, engineering, design and construction of the East-West highway corridor stretching from Montgomery to Cuba, Alabama,” said Shelby. “The extension of I-85 in this area will bring significant economic development and new opportunities to a region of the state that has not yet reached its potential.”