Mayor hopes to have $1M a year to address future needs

Jasper drainage project winding down

By ED HOWELL
Posted 1/2/19

Jasper Mayor David O'Mary said the downtown drainage work near the Jasper Civic Center is almost complete and already successful, and he now hopes the city can handle other projects with as much as …

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Mayor hopes to have $1M a year to address future needs

Jasper drainage project winding down

Posted

Jasper Mayor David O'Mary said the downtown drainage work near the Jasper Civic Center is almost complete and already successful, and he now hopes the city can handle other projects with as much as $1 million each year if the city continues to be prosperous. 

"There is very little money left to be paid" on progress payments for the drainage work approved by the city engineer, O'Mary said. "I think there is some finished paving work to be done. The weather has hindered that. If we had good weather, you'll see the fences go away and that will open up probably within a couple of weeks or less." 

Work on the drainage issues at the civic center has slowed down traffic at that site, as well as resulting in temporary fences and excavation for some time now. 

O'Mary said Monday that recent rains have given a good test.

"At this point, I am very satisfied with it now. The rain gauge a few days ago said we had 5 inches of rain. I didn't see any floodwaters on 19th Street, and that has not been the case for a long, long time," he said. 

City officials have been working to solve drainage work in that area, as the street in front of the civic center has been notorious for flood waters, sometimes even going into nearby businesses. 

"It looks like the receiving flume on the northeast end of that piece of work there is doing its job of bringing the water in and getting it moving in the right direction to go south of town and make its way into the Warrior River," he said. 

The project was just shy of $1 million, with no major cost overruns, O'Mary said. Money was borrowed in 2017, and construction got underway about a year ago.

Drones were even sent up by the city this year in order to find trouble spots along Town Creek that might be contributing to the downtown flooding. 

O'Mary said Phase III, the last phase of the city's current sidewalk project, was recently let, with Robertson Excavating of Winfield the low bidder at $626,833. That project includes paving 19th Street from near City Hall going west to the railroad crossing at Sixth Avenue. It includes paving, as well as new sidewalks and lighting, for fifth Avenue to 18th Avenue and back to Fourth Avenue. That work should begin in late January or early February and go for 180 working days.

A $400,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation will go toward the cost, with the city paying the remaining balance of $226,833. City leaders will look for ways to lower the cost. 

O'Mary said other areas of the city need attention as well. 

"We have a project we're looking at on the west side of town area. At Deano's (Hickory Pit, on Alabama Highway 69), there is some flooding there. I've asked the council to set aside time for a fairly lengthy work session in January to begin to identify and prioritize projects," he said. 

He said with the good financial experience in the past two years, the city has about $1.5 million to spend, which he said the city will be careful with.  

"We don't have all the money to do all the things we need to do," he said, pointing out the Deano's drainage project will probably cost $1 million alone. "We may can get started with that."

With the continued finance performance seen in the past two years, O'Mary envisioned that the city "be in the position to infuse $1 million a year in the city if we keep having those years. That will allow us to do a lot of things that need to be done. That's what I am hopeful for, that we would be in position to plug $1 million every year into various projects. I think it is very doable." 

Meanwhile, he said the Airport Road project north of Highway 118 is only being held up now by the Alabama Department of Transportation's final approval for the designs for the poles that will hold up traffic signals. "We expect that to come in early January and work will probably start in late January or early February. That is probably a six- to seven-month project," he said.