Earlier this month, Ohio legislators approved an increase to the state gas tax and starting this fall, Union County will see the first signs of revenue from the measure.
The increase of 10.5 cents a gallon for gas and 19 cents a gallon for diesel will take effect in July 1.
County Engineer Jeff Stauch said Union County would see $1.5 million per year in revenue from the increase and a quarter of that will be available for use as early as October. He added the money would likely go toward road resurfacing improvements.
“We should be repaving 15-20 miles a year to stay up-to-date with our paving projects. In 2018, we were only able to do about seven miles,” Stauch said. “The money from the $1.5 million in revenue will likely go to helping get that going.”
According to Stauch, there have been a variety of factors in getting behind on the paving projects, from not having enough funding to construction inflation.
“There’s just not always enough funding to help with these things so we have to prioritize,” said Stauch. “We’re a medium size county that has a lot of growth and it’s difficult when the budget doesn’t reflect the amount of growth.” He said the average cost of paving is $125,000 for every mile of road and with an estimated $6 million in unmet road projects around the county, Stauch said it’s a bit of a balancing act. “You just can’t make the dollars stretch as far as you want them to.”
In addition to paving projects, the county also has a few large-scale projects in the works for the summer.
“One of the bigger things we’re going to do is the widening and improvement of Scottslawn Road,” said Stauch. “We hope to start on that sometime in mid-summer.” The work will extend nearly three miles from Route 736 to the U.S. 33 interchange and will cost $2.5 million. During construction, the road will be widened, utility poles moved and they will be adding turn lanes. Another larger project is the replacement of a bridge on Cunningham Arbela Road in the northwest part of the county. Stauch said work on the bridge will cost a little over $1 million and it will be partially funded with local dollars and partially funded with federal dollars. Plans for completion are sometime in the fall.
Funding for road and bridge improvements come from three primary sources: the gas tax, license user fees and a local road and bridge sales tax. Union County receives nearly equal shares of revenue from the gas tax and license fees according to the engineer’s annual report.
“All revenue comes in on a monthly basis and can vary in the amount,” Stauch said. “It goes back to that balancing act as far as what gets done during the season. We just try to look at our needs and prioritize the projects.”
While the county will see $1.5 million, townships will receive $55-60,000.
“When we look at the townships, for instance, in the southeast, we have a lot more activity than in other places. In those cases, we do our best to partner with other jurisdictions to see how we can share in cost,” Stauch said. “We handle as much as we can in-house, but more funding would certainly help us.”
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