WILMINGTON — The Clinton County Engineer’s Office, headed up by County Engineer Jeff Linkous, released its 2015 annual report showing the budgetary expenses, bridges replaced, roads resurfaced and projects still on the horizon.
Central to the annual report this year, as it was last year, is the department’s declining funds.
“For the past 10 years, we have seen a decline in the revenues used for the maintenance and improvement of your county roads and bridges,” the report stated. “While we once were able to do more replacement on our bridges, we are now having to repair and rehabilitate to keep our bridges from declining.
“We cannot continue to maintain our local infrastructure to the level that is expected without additional funding,” Linkous’ report continued. “The challenges that face us in 2016 are the same ones we faced last year: trying to do more with less.”
The report said licensing fees and gas taxes account for 80 percent of the department’s funding, revenue sources Linkous said are declining as the cost of materials increases.
Linkous told the News Journal that an increase in the taxes collected on gas would benefit Clinton County more than an increase in license fees because the former accounts for $2.3 million and the latter, $1.4 million of current funding.
Since 2005, the department has lost more than half a million dollars in funding.
“Our funding has not increased in 10 years; that’s our problem,” he said. “When materials cost more and you’re funding remains the same” you’re losing purchasing power.
In 2015, the report said, the department obtained $435,640 in federal and state funding to supplement its own funds. In all, the department spent $4.5 million, earning less than $4.4 million.
Bridges and culverts on five county roads were replaced, costing $475,415, though the Ohio Public Works Commission paid 79 percent of the most expensive item.
In 2016, the department proposes to repair or replace bridges and culverts on 11 roads, at an estimated cost of $285,000.
As for roads, the county resurfaced more than 40 miles of roads at a price of $440,103, using single, or “chip,” sealing, which is cheaper than resurfacing with asphalt.
“When you’ve got 270 miles of road, you try to seal as much as you can,” Linkous said. “If you could pave, you’d actually get more life out of them. … (But) we can’t keep up with that.”
Five year reports of crashes on county and township roads show decreases to traffic accidents from 1,616 (2002 – 2006) to 1,080 (2011 – 2015).
A report filed by Deputy Engineer Adam Fricke says Farmers Road, Gurneyville Road and Antioch Road were identified as high risk routes by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Over the next few years, the engineer’s office will work to remove hills, valleys and trees as well as widen pavement and improve sight distance, curves and ditches.
The projects are expected to cost $2.2 million, 80 percent of which, or $1.75 million, will be paid for by federal Highway Safety Improvement Program grants, which were made possible by the high risk designation. Construction will begin on Gurneyville Road this year, on Farmers Road in 2017 and on Antioch Road in 2021.
The full report with more data can be found at www.clintoncountyengineer.org or on the News Journal’s web version of this article.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.