Notes: this article has been edited for clarification after first appearing in The Daily Record on April 29, 2019. County officials appreciate this Daily Record news coverage focusing on county highway needs. Edited portions appear in bold.
Two public hearings are scheduled on potential further funding, as described in this article, aimed at meeting Wayne County highway maintenance needs. The first hearing is Wednesday, May 15, 2019 following the 2 p.m. Commissioner meeting in upper level of the County Administration Building at 428 West Liberty St. in Wooster. The second is Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at the same time and location.
Wayne County sinking gas tax revenue into road maintenance
By Emily Morgan / Staff Writer
Posted Apr 29, 2019 at 3:38 PM
The Wayne County engineer had no trouble deciding where to focus the increased gas tax revenue flowing into his budget later this summer.
“Reviewing the bridge and road inventories, it was easy to decide that the additional money will be used on road maintenance,” county Engineer Scott Miller told the Wayne County Commissioners last week.
Last year, Midwest Pavement Analysis & Design LLC conducted an in-depth inspection on the state of Wayne County’s 499 miles of roads and found the current cost to perform all the necessary maintenance and resurfacing projects to be $36.8 million if it were possible to do all the work immediately.
County employees currently do road maintenance with a budget of $1.7 million. The county anticipates using the entire $1.5 million added funds from the newly enacted state gas tax increase for highway maintenance using contractors. This will start in 2020 and amount to $3.2 million targeted for highway maintenance.
However, the county projects needing $4.3 million annually for sustainable maintenance of its roads over a 20 year planning.
“We’re still at a $1.1 million annual shortfall,” Miller said.
The two-year transportation budget, signed by Gov. Mike DeWine on April 3, is increasing Ohio’s 28-cent gas tax to 38.5 cents. The tax for diesel fuel will increase by 19 cents to 47 cents a gallon. These will take effect on July 1, with funds beginning to flow to Wayne County in late 2019 toward the 2020 construction season.
Miller presented a tentative schedule for projects over the next three years, including 2019. The first two years will focus on the preservation of roads. There are 25 projects planned to maintain 89 miles of road in 2019 at a cost of $1.7 million and 29 projects to maintain nearly 136 miles in 2020 for $3.1 million. Larger projects are planned for 2021 to maintain nearly 80 miles of road for $3.2 million.
Roads expected to receive the most attention in 2019 include Salt Creek, Warwick, Apple Creek, Hackett, Jericho, Fulton and Harrison roads. Wayne County road maintenance forecasts and maps will be available on the county engineer’s website starting May 15, 2019.
The Wayne County engineer currently performs all road repairs and maintenance (scratch pave, drag patch, and chip and seal) with in-house personnel and equipment, except for Ohio Public Works Commission projects. The engineer plans to start contracting out chip and seal.
Commissioners also are considering an additional license plate fee at $5, which would provide an additional $600,000 to the county engineer’s budget. The county can issue up to four of these fees and already has three on the books.
Miller proposed using these funds for safety improvement projects, such as improving intersection sight distance, widening bridges with high traffic volumes or high accident areas, adding guardrails along sections of road with deep and large ditches and improving other high accident areas.
The commissioners will hold two public meetings to consider the resolution to levy the annual license tax, on May 15 and May 22 at 2 p.m. (following the commissioners’ regular Wednesday meetings).