Jasper to start huge summer paving project

Posted 5/15/18

Thanks to bond money obtained last year, Jasper officials have announced a schedule of summer road paving that should take care of from 70 to 80 percent of the worst needs in the city. "This …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

Jasper to start huge summer paving project


Thanks to bond money obtained last year, Jasper officials have announced a schedule of summer road paving that should take care of from 70 to 80 percent of the worst needs in the city. 

"This will be the most massive paving project ever undertaken by the city," Jasper Mayor David O'Mary said in an interview Thursday at Jasper City Hall. "There is deferred maintenance across this city. The best way to get your hands around that is to run for mayor and walk across all these streets and let people tell you about it." 

"These are roads that are pretty expensive to do, so they have just been left," City Engineer Joe Matthews said, adding many of the roads are in such shape that they should either be paved or "you have to plow them under and make them dirt roads, like in South Alabama." 

O'Mary and Matthews last week laid out a schedule of 23 projects, noting that if funds hold out more might be added by the end of the project. 

"We hope they can get started by early June," Matthews said. The contract calls for the work to be completed in 70 work days, which roughly translates to 3.5 months, depending on the weather. 

O'Mary noted that in early 2017 the city borrowed $11.2 million through a bond issue, out of which $7 million was earmarked for paving, with no state funds. 

He said Matthews felt "with $7 million, that maybe we could pave 70 to 80 percent of the roads that needed paving," as opposed to all the roads in the city, as some don't need it. 

The work announced is the first of a three-phase schedule of projects. 

O'Mary was not sure how long the three phases could take, saying it could be 18 months, or it could be longer.

"If you had a really rapid run-up in the cost of crude oil, which drives the price of asphalt, we might say we want to hold off for a little while," O'Mary said. 

He said Matthews is hopeful that as they are close to the end of Phase 1 that officials can start to prepare for Phase 2, although there is "no guarantee" that will happen. 

Matthews said the work on Phase 1 was bid out and Dunn Construction won the low bid at just under $1.9 million. The city had estimated $2.1 million on the first phase. 

"The bid came back better than we thought it would be. In Round 1, we're probably going to get more mileage out of our money than we thought," O'Mary said. 

Matthews said he, City Planner Keith Pike and other officials rode over the streets a couple of times for their own evaluation. 

"We took from there the arterials or collectors, our main roads that have a lot of traffic, because the life of a road that has a lot of traffic is like anything else, it is used more," which gives it a shorter lifespan compared to roads less traveled, Matthews said. A small paved subdivision road may last 20 or 25 years, but a major road like Airport Road probably might last 10 to 15 years. 

The council was presented the evaluation, and they approved the recommendation to do roads with grades of 1, 2 or 3. Those involved the arterials and collectors and a few minor subdivision level roads, he said. 

O'Mary called it a "really interesting scientific approach in evaluating the conditions of the roads," with both officials noting it was unbiased as the Sain officials were from Birmingham. 

"It was crystal clear with them to be independent of what we gave them. We did not give them any of my grading of the roads. We just gave them a list of roads, and said, 'You grade these roads and you tell us what we should do as Phase 1,'" Matthews said. 

Matthews said his involvement on the project will be limited, mostly to giving updates to the mayor and council and to dealing with unexpected problems, such as bad spots that might cost a little more money. 

Those roads on the list, which are all expected to be done this summer with the full amount of additional work (striping, signage, shoulder work, etc), include the following: 

• Third Avenue, from the railroad at Albert Russell to 33rd Street West (Mar-Jac).

• Sixth Avenue South, from 31st Street West to a dead end. This is a small section in the Coke Oven area that Matthews said was in "really bad shape." 

• 14th Avenue West, from Highway 118 (old Highway 78) to Sixth Street West. (This street is "is where you come off the highway at the Nazarene church and then if you skip ahead on the other side of the ballparks," he said.)

• 14th Avenue West, from 10th Street West and Old Russellville Road. 

• 14th Avenue West, from 22nd Street West to Highway 69.

• 19th Street West, from 18th Avenue to 10th Avenue. (The roads on the list from 19th Street to 25th Street are collectors in a way for the West Jasper area.) 

• 20th Street West, from 18th Avenue to 10th Avenue.

• 21st Street West, from the city limits to 15th Avenue West.

• 21st Street West, from 15th Avenue West to Highway 69.

• 22nd Street West, from a dead end to Highway 69.

• 25th Street West, from Highway 69 to Highway 269.

• 36th Avenue NE (the first section of what some call Blackwell Dairy Road, by Walker Baptist Medical Center), from Third Street NE to Highway 78.

• Blackwell Dairy Road (north portion), from Arkadelphia Road to the city limits, which stop when one goes past Blackwell Estates.

• Blackwell Dairy Road (south portion), from Meadow Way to Third Street NE. 

• Crescent Circle Drive from South Lowell Road to the creek, 1,500 feet south of South Lowell. Matthews said, "We're doing about half of that. The eastern end is in really bad shape." 

• Heritage Drive, the second drive into Heritage Hills, from North Walston Bridge Road to Pawnee Circle. Matthews said it is "in bad shape." 

• Meadowview Circle, from Meadowview Drive to dead end. This is a subdivision area off Old Birmingham Highway, once one leaves from Industrial Boulevard. 

• Meadowview Drive, along the Old Birmingham Highway. This is a subdivision area off Old Birmingham Highway, once one leaves from Industrial Boulevard. 

• New Prospect Road, from Brakefield Dairy Road to Highway 5. 

• Shades Cliff Road, from the address at 1020 to the end of the roadway, in the Heritage Hills area. 

• Snoddy Chappel Road, from Brakefield to Highway 5. This cut-through road is on the western end of Jasper, near North Jasper Nazarene.

• West Gamble Drive, from Landfill Drie to 5 Gamble Road. "That is the road to the landfill," Matthews said. 

• The Fourth Avenue parking lot downtown, which the city owns and is located on the east side of the road, behind the row of law offices on the courthouse square. With growth in the city and a number of local employees using the parking lot, a number of elderly people have been seriously hurt on the lot, which has pot holes, making it a safety issue, he said. 

"We can't keep it patched," he said, noting the city has been unable to do work at the parking lot for some time. 

Matthews noted, "At the end of the summer, it might be if everything ran smooth we might expand this, because we got a really good bid price." Some roads that were evaluated as a 4 might be paved at that time, using evaluations again from Sain. 

Matthews noted that this project is separate from the work being performed on Airport Road north of Highway 118 and Viking Drive east of Jasper High School, where state ATRIP money will be used, as well as city match money set aside. Final paving on the second phase of the Viking project was started Thursday and will be completed within a week, he said, calling it a simple project. Striping will follow, as well as the traffic signal at the intersection of Jones Dairy Road. 

He did mention the city is taking bids next this week for a drainage project on part of Airport Road South from 18th Street (near the Jasper Public Library) up three blocks in front of the Jasper Water Works and Sewer Board.

"We're using a little bit of the paving money for what the paving part of that project is," he said. "There is no storm drainage and the water that bleeds out of Academy Hill up there, you see water there all the time. That is an issue we just have to fix." A water line will be moved out from under the road, which the water works is estimated to pay about $90,000 for. The city will pay about $210,000 for curb and gutter and rebuild the road. 

Also, Matthews noted $1 million of the $7 million was allocated for downtown roads, and $350,000 was spent in relation to the separate sidewalk project for the courthouse square area. 

"We still have in our mind about another $650,000 to fix some other roads downtown as our projects progress. We have another sidewalk project that goes down to the railroad tracks on 19th and up Fifth Avenue," Matthews said. "We will be holding money for paving when those are done to make those like this."