O'Mary: Be patient with road paving

David O'Mary
David O'Mary
File photo

Jasper Mayor David O'Mary is urging the public to be patient with the progress of the Highway 118 repaving project, which has taken several months, noting it is not costing the city any funds. 

O'Mary said in late December the state road repaving project on Highway 118 (Highway 78) may now be concluded by late January. It was originally set to be completed by Thanksgiving. 

The Jasper City Council voted Tuesday to allow O'Mary to enter into an agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) for another downtown sidewalk improvement project. He said the project would likely get underway in the fall. 

"We're very fortunate we're batting 1,000 percent on our applications for sidewalk projects in this city. This relates to the next project that will likely get underway in the fall," he told the council. 

He then noted the funds come through the Alabama Department of Transportation, turning to the road paving. 

"I don't think anyone could be more frustrated with the paving on Highway 118. It's aggravating. I bump across it every day going to work going home or whatever else I do," he said. "But it is my guess ALDOT has a great deal of discretion in what they do and where they do work." 

He said he was always taught that one doesn't "smite the hand that feeds you." He said the city needs to keep that in perspective. 

"There have been some sharp things said about it and about the state Highway Department," he said. While the project is costing millions of dollars, it will not cost the city anything. 

"I would hope we would sort of temper our thinking with tolerance and understanding. ALDOT is not working to work a hardship on Jasper and it will get wrapped up as quick as it can," O'Mary said.

Weather has hampered the progress of the project, he said. 

O'Mary said the latest project means about $3 million has been spent on sidewalks in the city, with 80 percent of it coming from the state. 

In November, O'Mary said the city had received $640,000 in TAP (Transportation Alternatives Program) grant funding for more sidewalk improvements. Funds come from a federal program that sends the funds out in Alabama through the Alabama Department of Transportation, O'Mary said. The city will put up a 20 percent match. 

Estimates at the time indicated the total project would cost $800,000, with the city  giving the balance of $160,000, he said. 

The grant will cover sidewalks along 20th Street, Fourth Avenue, Third Avenue and Second Avenue, O'Mary said.