$120 million program to repair 20 Northwest Ohio bridgesWritten by Jordan Finney | | firstname.lastname@example.org
BOWLING GREEN— The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has promised to invest $120 million in approximately 200 county and 20 city bridges across Ohio over the next three years.
Of the $120 million, Lucas County and Wood County will collectively receive an $11.2 million investment toward repairing 20 bridges, according to ODOT.
“Our first priority is the preservation and maintenance of a local area — to keep you safe while you’re out and about in Toledo,” ODOT press secretary Steve Faulkner said. “Never before through the governor’s leadership have we made a serious investment in local community bridges to fix them and make them safer.”
ODOT has partnered with Gov. John Kasich’s office to promote the new Ohio Bridge Partnership Program. Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor spoke at an ODOT community discussion in Bowling Green on May 20 to explain why she endorses the initiative.
Taylor began her speech with a story about an unsafe bridge that forces school buses to make kids exit the bus and wait for it to cross the bridge before they walk to the other side.
“Ultimately what’s important is the safety of those who travel our roads,” Taylor said. “I think this program speaks well of the types of partnerships that can exist in Ohio. It means more jobs, great transportation and infrastructure development. It’s moving our state forward.”
Taylor went on to speak about the importance of infrastructure investment for the state’s economy and how the bridge program will create hundreds of new private sector jobs.
“We know the value of public investment in infrastructure. We’re fortunate people to be only one day’s drive from 60 percent of the U.S. population,” said Jim Carter, president of the Wood County Commissioners. “This county is in bad shape with infrastructure and our government is doing something about it.”
In order to qualify for program funding, bridges have to be more than 20 feet long, open and carrying traffic, and labeled “structurally deficient” by engineers.
According to Faulkner, “structurally deficient may sound worse than it actually is.” These bridges have diverse maintenance needs ranging from new paint to additional concrete work.
“Being structurally deficient doesn’t mean they aren’t safe for travel. It means they have repair needs and maybe can’t carry legal loads,” Lucas County Engineer Keith Early said. “ODOT is trying to get the lower-hanging fruit, the worst of the ones that can be done fairly easily and cheaply.”
ODOT will implement its bridge program by working in conjunction with the Ohio County Engineers Association. County engineers will have the opportunity to make some suggestions on the size and materials of the new bridges.
“I feel like a kid at Christmastime that just discovered 18 Christmas presents under the tree that I didn’t expect to be there,” said Wood County Engineer Ray Huber. “The orange barrels are up and it’s going to be a tremendous summer. Please bear with us. When it’s all said and done this is going to be a much better county to live in.”
According to Huber, many of the county’s bridges are “old, tired, rusted and falling apart” because they were built in the 1930s. The new bridges will not need load limits and should be safe for 40-ton trucks, the heaviest vehicles in the state.
During the next three years, ODOT will repair 18 Wood County bridges. In addition, ODOT will repair two Lucas County bridges: Taylor Road over Otter Creek (2015, $300,000) and Crabb Road over Shantee Creek (2016, $550,000).
“Ohio has 44,000 bridges — second only to Texas,” said Thomas Kovacik, executive director at the Transportation Advocacy Group of Northern Ohio (TAGNO). “Our bridge conditions are better than the national average but many are still waiting for repairs. At the end of the day, it’s Gov. Kasich’s plan that’s brought us forward to addressing these needs.”
When Kasich took office in 2011, ODOT operated with a $1.6 billion budget deficit. Today, its revenue from the State Motor Fuel Tax, federal funds and the turnpike totals about $2.8 billion a year.
“ODOT is able to put money toward this bridge program because it was a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars,” said Rob Nichols, press secretary for Kasich. “It wasn’t required to step forward and say ‘We can help,’ but it has.”
According to Faulkner, Kasich has encouraged ODOT to get its “financial house in order” and shown leadership by looking at ODOT as a government agency that needs to tighten its operation budget and put more money in its construction budget.
“We know there are big issues when it comes to transportation,” Faulkner said. “We can’t wait for a federal bailout. We need to fix our own problems here in Ohio and that’s exactly what we are doing with the new bridge program.”
Wood County bridges to be repaired are:
- Henry Wood County Lane Road over Brush Creek Road, 2016, $465,780
- Mermill Road over Ditch 2172, 2014, $447,720
- Bradner Road over Henry Ditch, 2014 ,$556,080
- Jerry City Road over Portage River, 2014, $628,320
- Liberty Hi Road over Portage River, 2016, $727,860
- Lemoyne Road over Toussaint Creek, 2016, $646,380
- Tracy Road over Cedar Creek, 2015, $253,260
- Range Line Road over Portage River, 2014, $632,940
- Jerry City Road over Portage River, 2015, $714,420
- Five Point Road over Cedar Creek, 2015, $284,760
- Latcha Road over Cedar Creek, 2015, $438,480
- Jerry City Road over Ditch 2441, 2015, $253,260
- Liberty Hi Road over Portage River, 2016, $1,076,040
- Owen Road over Cedar Creek, 2014, $583,380
- Park Avenue over Portage River, 2015, $777,420
- Lime City Road over Grassy Creek, 2016, $614,880
- Dunbridge Road over Toussaint Creek, 2016, $338,940
- Collins Road over Henry Ditch, 2016, $917,700
Tags: bridge project, Jim Carter, John Kasich, Lucas County, Mary Taylor, ODOT, Ohio County Engineers Association, Ohio Department of Transportation, Ray Huber, Steve Faulkner, Thomas Kovacik, Transportation Advocacy Group of Northern Ohio, Wood County, Wood County Commissioners