A pair of long-awaited road improvements came a step closer to fruition as the Jefferson County Commission moved those matters to the agenda of Thursday’s commission meeting.
Each road project is in Hoover – extending Galleria Boulevard from John Hawkins Parkway to Lorna Road and widening South Shades Crest Road. The latter project would add a third lane to the heavily traveled stretch of road.
“South Shades Crest where it comes into (Alabama) 150 going south, we’ll be putting in an additional line so they can get that traffic out faster,” Deputy County Manager Cal Markert said following the commission committee meeting. “That is a county road going through Hoover. Hoover will pay half and the county will pay half.
“The Galleria Boulevard extension is a MPO (metropolitan planning organization) federal aid project (that is) 80% funded by the MPO,” Markert continued. “Hoover again agreed to match half. It’s a 20% match with 10% Hoover and 10% county. The county is simply the lead on the project. We’re managing the project.”
Heather Carter, head of the county’s department of roads and transportation, said related work is being done at the south end of South Shades Crest and Morgan Road near a new Publix grocery store.
“We’re doing a little bit of widening in there,” Carter said. “Ultimately that’ll get a left turn lane so it’ll be three lanes through that section. On the other end, which is where this project is, it’s picking up a short three-lane section from John Hawkins Parkway up to Eden Ridge.”
A bridge along that stretch of South Shades Crest Road goes over a CSX railroad and must be replaced. Additionally, some other areas must be widened.
“We have a longer-term plan and (are doing the) project in phases to widen that one all the way out,” Carter said. “There are 13,000 vehicles a day on that road. There’s a lot of traffic, a lot of need. It’s a tough road to widen.”
A street improvement agreement with the City of Lipscomb was moved to Thursday’s agenda. That resolution was prompted by a question from Commissioner Joe Knight about whether that kind of agreement is available for cities like Center Point and Tarrant in his district.
“Why is this specific to just Lipscomb? What about these other cities?” he asked. “I’ve getting numerous requests out of Center Point. I want to look into the program a little bit more to see. How do they apply? How do they get allocated some funding? I mean, it was just Lipscomb. I understand Lipscomb’s needs but there’s other needs out there too. I was just asking.”
Chief Financial Officer Angela Dixon announced that the county’s budget office of Lene Wormley, Marilyn Shepard and Stephanie Lowe was awarded the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Association for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.
“This award is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting,” Dixon said. “This is the second year they’ve been able to do this so they are knocking it out of the park.”
Speaking of budgets, Knight, the chair of the commission’s finance and budget committees, said nonprofits have begun lining up with requests for county money from the fiscal 2022 budget.
“A couple of years ago we went through this public service fund and doled out some money then,” Knight said. “We decided that next year we’re not going to do it. We’re going to have to see, maybe at the end of the year, how we do.
“If there’s some funding later maybe there’s some things that we can look at to fund,” he said. “But that’s going to be up to the commission. How are we going to do this? What are we going to do, if anything. These are 501C3’s.”
Commissioners also moved to Thursday’s agenda a public hearing concerning The Landing moving its corporate headquarters to Birmingham. It is the second business venture of Bill Smith after he sold Shipt.
Commissioner Steve Ammons, who chairs the commission’s economic development committee, said the business will bring 816 full-time jobs to the county. The county is offering tiered incentives to bring the business here, paying $2,000 per employee who makes $50,000 a year or more in regular salary, $3,000 per employee who makes $75,000 or more and $4,000 per employee who makes $100,000 or more.
“They have to be employed for 12 months and that has to be certified by their HR before that incentive would be paid out,” Ammons said. “We did cap it at $1 million; the number of employees and the salaries that they will bring would have eclipsed that million-dollar mark very easily.”