Milan Mayor Robert Bickley made good on his promise to pass on about $7,000 of bills for the temporary U.S. 250 fix to Gov. Ted Strickland, but not in his usual flamboyant manner.
Bickley said he didn't want to overshadow the campaign visit Strickland was making for Robin Weirauch, Democratic candidate for the 5th Congressional District. So Bickley simply gave information about the case and copies of the bills to one of the governor's staff in attendance.
"I've talked with his office about this," Bickley said. Strickland did, in fact, mention the Milan mayor in his remarks to the public as he talked about bi-partisan efforts to solve problems.
Bickley said State Rep. Matthew Barrett (D-Amherst) and Senator Sue Morano (D-Lorain), who also attended the campaign event, are "up to speed" on the village's predicament.
"They both know what's going on and are working to help," Bickley said.
Barrett and Morano said during their walk through uptown it is not practical to expect villages and small cities to pay for all repairs to state and federal highways in their jurisdiction.
"We don't want set any precedents," Barrett said, adding that would cripple small communities faced with expensive repairs for roads they didn't build.
Morano said it would be a financial nightmare for several Huron County communities if they received bills similar to the ones Milan faces.
Barrett said he wants both the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) to help the village. The OPWC Commission director said last week that his agency might be able to provide 90 percent of the cost for repairs in an emergency grant, but that leaves Milan and ODOT arguing over responsibility for the final $10,000. Milan spent $7,000 last week to make temporary repairs that should last through the winter.
"I've asked both ODOT and Ohio Public Works to look for other avenues. We at least have time to deal with it now because of the temporary repairs," Barrett said.
The representatives said they are also considering legislation to protect local communities from disastrous costs of major repairs to state and federal roadways.
"It's going to come up again and again and again," Morano said. "The first order is concerning ODOT. This is ODOT's responsibility."
Both representatives said Milan and ODOT may be eligible for more assistance since the governor recently switched some state money from a fund for new construction to a fund for repairs.
Milan officials and ODOT are at odds over who should pay for the $100,000 of repairs to fix extensive erosion on the northbound lane of U.S. 250 near the boundary between Huron and Erie counties. ODOT said Milan must pay for all of the repairs on U.S. 250 according to Ohio law. The village said the repairs are not routine maintenance, but the damage is due to structural defects and should be ODOT's responsibility since that agency built the road.