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ODOT projects no longer delayed due to funding

By Norwalk Reflector staff • Jul 2, 2019 at 5:00 PM

Boasting one of the largest network of roads and bridges in the nation, Ohio has spent $2.07 billion on projects to maintain or replace roads and bridges this year.

These projects were funded by the state and federal motor fuel tax.

"Those who use our roads and bridges pay to maintain and improve them. Unfortunately, as the costs of maintaining and building roads and bridges continued to go up, revenues from the state motor fuel tax, a user fee, did not," said Jack Marchbanks, director of Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).

State lawmakers fixed that problem by including a 10.5-cent per-gallon tax hike in Ohio’s transportation budget — an increase that took effect Monday.

Partly because of that, the average price for gasoline across Northeast Ohio rose by 12 cents this week to $2.676 per gallon, according to AAA East Central’s Gas Price Report. Statewide, the average price of gasoline is nine cents more expensive this week at $2.645.

This is the first increase in the tax since 2005.

However, that was only one of the several factors gas prices for affecting Ohio motorists, according to industry analysts.

With the state’s proximity to Pennsylvania, the announcement of the closing of the PES refinery in Philadelphia is helping to drive prices upward.

Although gasoline stocks are robust in the region, motorists could continue see increases at the pump. This is due in part due to the PES closure, increasing crude oil prices and a record-high number of travelers expected over the holiday. The silver lining for Ohio motorists is that if prices move upward in the days ahead, they will likely still be on par with this time last year.

Meanwhile, ODOT officials said the department can continue with road projects thanks to additional funding from 

“Safety is always the priority. With the additional revenue from the transportation budget, we can move forward with not only our scheduled maintenance projects, but we can look forward to other new projects as well,” said Bob Weaver, deputy director of District 3, which includes Huron County. “Everything we do is geared toward making the roadways safer, and thanks to the increased funding, we can continue to work on it.”

With more than 81 active projects in District 3 alone this summer, ODOT crews have been busy. Included in the work have been 28 pavement projects worth more than $77 million.

However, numerous projects were delayed due to funding issues ODOT faced at the beginning of the year. With the allocation increase, District 3 will now be able to move forward with those projects, which will include bridge designs and resurfacing projects.

The increased revenue from the transportation budget will not only help meet the needs of ODOT, the local governments will benefit from it as well. 

Since 1990, truck traffic in Ohio has increased by 66 percent and passenger vehicle traffic is up 41 percent. The state's population has grown by 7.4 percent. At the same time, the number of lane miles maintained by ODOT has only grown by 3.6 percent.

"To some, orange barrels may mean frustration and delay, but they’re really a sign of progress and a growing economy in our state," Marchbanks said.

This construction season included a total of 1,034 projects with 90 percent aimed at preserving existing roads and bridges. These projects included paving 5,166 miles of roadway, working on 871 bridges, and completing 246 safety-focused projects.

 

LOCAL PROJECTS

Ohio 162, between New London Lafayette Road and New London East Road, reopened Sunday. The road was previously closed for railroad crossing repairs.

Meanwhile, work continues on the chip seal project on 162 from U.S. 250 to the village of New London. This portion of the state highway has single-lane closures. Traffic is maintained by flaggers. The project is expected to be completed this month.

Also, Ohio 162, just west of Gore Orphanage Road, will close Monday, July 8 for a culvert replacement.

The detour route for westbound motorists is Ohio 162 to Ohio 511, north on Ohio 511 to Ohio 18, west on Ohio 18 to Ohio 60, south on Ohio 60 to Ohio 162, and reverse for eastbound motorists. The road is expected to reopen Aug. 6.

ODOT works with its contractors to reduce the size of work zones and open as many lanes as possible over holiday weekends. Work will resume as usual Monday, July 8.

Here is the ODOT District 3 construction report for Huron County for the week of July 1:

U.S. 20

U.S. 20, just east of the village of Wakeman, will be reduced to one lane of traffic for a resurfacing project and structure repairs. Traffic will be maintained by flaggers. The project is expected to be complete Aug. 15.

U.S. 20, at the structure over the Vermillion River, in the Village of Wakeman, will have reduced lane widths and traffic shifted to complete bridge repair work. Two lanes of traffic will be maintained. The project is expected to be complete October 2019.

Ohio 269

Ohio 269, through the City of Bellevue, will have single lane closures for a resurfacing project. Traffic will be maintained by flaggers. The project is expected to be finished in August.

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