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Tallassee Mayor Sarah Hill accepting the big check

City receives monumental federal grant

By Michael Butler

The City of Tallassee is the recipient of a landmark grant that will go towards replacing its aging gas pipelines. The U.S. Department of Transportation made the announcement on Friday, April 7 at Tallassee City Hall.

Tallassee will receive $9,749,000 to replace 17.75 miles of cast iron pipe with polyethylene pipe. Tallassee was among five municipalities in the state presented with checks at the press conference on the front steps of City Hall. In all, approximately $22 million will be distributed in Alabama, with Tallassee receiving the largest portion.

"Older pipelines are more challenging to maintain," said Linda Daugherty, program manager for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. "This program was designed to provide $200 million to communities like yours across the country."

Dignitaries from Tallassee, Graysville, Lanett, Cordova and Fultondale

Tallassee Mayor Sarah Hill commended CDG Engineering for their work in the grant process. She also spoke of a safety issue that arose a few years ago.

"In 2021, the City of Tallassee narrowly avoided a potential catastrophe. In May, our seniors just days away from graduation, were gathered at our high school gymnasium. They were there for the awards ceremony, to receive scholarships for their hard efforts. They were gathered there with members of their families.

"Our school administration, teachers, other guests - all there - when the smell of gas started permeating throughout the building. Luckily, we avoided a problem and were able to change locations, but it brought forth to our city council and to our citizens what an issue this could be."

Hill went on to say that during that period the city has spent over $650,000 in replacing dilapidated lines.

"With approximately 61 miles of gas lines and 35 miles of cast iron, we have a pretty big issue ahead of us. We knew we needed to change our tactics because we weren't able to get as much done. In 2020, the city council took out a bond of $4.1 million to help address the remaining lines. We quickly realized again that was not going to be enough. Last year I was able to sign this grant application enthusiastically hoping that we would be the recipient, so I'm so excited."

Also, the full amount does not require any matching funds on the city's part.

"It's absolutely unheard of," Hill said. "$9.7 million will help us immensely. We're 41st in the nation in how many cast iron lines that we have. We have 56 percent of the whole state. We have a long road ahead of us. This is not going to fix everything."

The 17.75 miles of lines will take approximatley three years to replace and be exlusively used on the Elmore County side of the city. Hill said she plans to reapply for more funding to complete what is left in Tallapoosa County.