Commission opposes Senate Bill 157 and approves additional lanes for Valleydale Rd.

The Shelby County Commission unanimously passed a resolution expressing strong opposition to the provisions and intent of Senate Bill 157 at the February 14 meeting, saying that if implemented, it would would negatively impact the lifetime integrity of the county’s road and bridge system.

County Engineer Randy Cole explained the details of the bill, which was recently approved by the Senate committee. The logging/softwood industry is asking for their truck weight limits to be increased, especially for logging trucks.

Currently, the maximum load in the state of Alabama is 80,000 pounds, with a 10% scale tolerance that was put in place several years ago, which Cole described as “grossly excessive” for what was needed.

“The maximum weight for a truck on a portable scale is 88,000 pounds,” Cole said. “The timber industry wants to increase these loads on five and six axle vehicles and still want the same 10% scale tolerance. That would mean that on a six-wheeled vehicle, you could haul close to 100,000 pounds. This would be extremely detrimental to all counties in the state. Our roads were never built to support such loads. Most of ours weren’t even built to handle the trucks we put on them.

Cole said the state’s deputy director of transportation told him there were currently seven bridges in the state that wouldn’t allow 80,000 pounds. If the bill passes, that number will increase to more than 350 bridges.

“Each county commission has been asked to adopt a version of this resolution expressing our deep concern and will present it to the legislature saying that we do not have a county commission in the state that feels their roads can support that,” Cole said.

The commission approved a joint agreement between the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), the cities of Helena, Hoover, and Pelham, and Shelby County to widen a portion of Valleydale Rd. to US-31 to five lanes and crossing with AL-261 and widening it to five lanes ending at Bearden Road.

The $40 million project will be funded by $10.8 million in STP funds; $16 million in federal funds STPAA; $6.5 million in CRRSAA funds; $4 million in public funds and $675,000 each from Helena, Hoover, Pelham and Shelby County.

“The project started at $1 million for the cities and county and we brought it down to $675,000 and in an unusual show of cooperation from everyone involved, we were able to do it,” Cole said. “We have added a clause in the contract saying that if the overruns are too high, we individually reserve the right to withdraw from the project.”

With County Executive Chad Scroggins in Washington D.C. Development Manager David Willingham shared information on several county departments

  • Building permits increased from 1,695 in 2020 to 2,322 in 2021, which included both commercial and residential. Total building permit revenue for 2021 totaled $2,005,026.
  • A new landfill cell is under construction at the Shelby County Landfill at AL-70 in Columbiana. There are 400 acres under license with a construction cost of $6.5 million. Willingham said it is expected to be completed by September this year and serve the county for the next ten years.
  • The Shelby County Comprehensive Plan is moving into phase two. From February to June, the focus will be on developing the plan and making recommendations. This part will include developing and evaluating growth scenarios, new maps and recommendations for future development, planning strategies, stakeholder interviews, and in-person and virtual town hall meetings. The third phase will take place from August to October and will include the documentation and publication of the plan. The finalization and adoption of the plan is expected to take place between August and October 2022.

The committee approved bids for the following items:

  • Electronic monitoring equipment
  • EMS-BLS equipment
  • Backboard and contention material
  • EMS-ALS equipment
  • AED equipment
  • Firefighters’ equipment
  • Water meters for central pipeline
  • Fluorosilicic acid

Norman D. Briggs