Horton Mill bridge to close to traffic April 1

Blount County Commission

 

 

Late last year, the county was forced to once again make repairs to one of its three remaining covered bridges when the driver of a box truck ignored the warning signs and drove through Swann Covered Bridge. In recent years, the commission has spent more than $30,000 on repairs to both Swann and Horton Mill covered bridges.

After reviewing the number of accidents and incidents at Horton Mill Covered Bridge, county engineer Dustin Stewart, made the recommendation that the historic bridge should be closed to thru traffic while both Swann and Easley covered bridges should be modified with clearance bars at each end and placement of speed bumps on the approach to the bridges.

The commission voted to set April 1 as the target date for the closure of Horton Mill to vehicle traffic. “There are serious safety concerns,” Chairman Chris Green said, “but, we want to do all we can to preserve these historic structures for future generations. Also, in closing Horton Mill to traffic, it creates a park-like setting.” The motion passed allows for foot traffic only.

In a separate motion, the commission asked Stewart to formulate the best way to move forward for work on Swann and Easley along with a cost estimate. That report will be ready for the commission to discuss and approve at its February meeting.

Another topic getting much discussion was the final rule from the U.S. Treasury Department on the American Rescue Plan Act. Commission council Scott Barnett told commissioners that he and his colleagues have been reading through the 448-page document. While he said they have more to research, they have found a change that will be advantageous to the county.

“There is some improvement from the interim rules,” Barnett explained. “The best change is the option of a standard allowance instead of using the previously defined formula [to calculate loss].”

Barnett recommended the commission ask for the standard allowance. After amending the agenda to act on this matter (deadline to make the request is Jan. 31), the commission approved Barnett’s recommendation.

In other business, the commission approved:

• claims for Dec. 2021.

• Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging appointments of Green, Bonnie Monty, and Jackie Goode (alternative).

• bid invitation for the sale of property on Blount Parkway at County Line in D-4. Sealed bids will be opened and read aloud at the Feb. 3 work session. Property appraised at $11,000 and the commission set that as the minimum bid amount.

• budget amendment for recovery on insurance for damage to Swann Bridge in the amount of $16,400.

• budget amendment for D-1 (work performed on Sitton Road, $6,065).

• budget amendment for rollover of Christmas light donations at Palisades Park from FY 2021 ($36,400.30) and current year ($23,603.30) to FY 2022 budget 001-57200-269.

• bid invitation for employee uniforms and clothing.

• Rebuild Alabama 2021 Report.

• annual bid for traffic stripe to Ozark Striping.

The next Commission work session is Thursday, Feb. 3, at 9 a.m., with the regular business meeting to be held Tuesday, Feb. 8, at 9 a.m.