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LIMA — More than $3.3 million will be spent in Hardin County this year on six transportation projects announced Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Transportation.
The projects were unveiled at the ODOT District 1 2012 Construction Kick-Off program in Lima.
The event featured Ohio Director of Transportation Jerry Wray discussing the role of transportation in Ohio’s economy.
The largest ODOT project in Hardin County will be the grinding and resurfacing with asphalt concrete of Ohio 292 from the Logan County line north to Ohio 31, at the south edge of Kenton. The cost for the 8.2-mile project is estimated at $1,105,315.
Other county projects are:
In addition, a local government project is planned in Ada for phase II of the Lincoln Street project from Main to Union Street. The $1,037,716 project involves reconstructing the roadway, installing curbs and gutters, drainage, storm sewers, water lines, sidewalks, trees, benches, trash receptacles and lighting.
In the 8-county ODOT District I, 53 projects totaling more than $57 million are planned.
Statewide, Wray said, ODOT will deliver more than 800 construction projects worth more than $1.7 billion, which includes 120 paving projects, 154 bridge projects and others.
The event was held at Wannemacher Total Logistics in Lima. Following a tour of the full trucking site by owner Greg Wannemacher, Wray talked about how vital of a role Ohio’s transportation projects are to the economy of the state as a whole, as well as the companies that help keep moving it along.
“We all know transportation projects create on-site jobs and stimulate the local economy. We sometimes forget that a well-maintained transportation system is critical to our overall state economy,” Wray said. “Businesses such as Wannemacher Total Logistics are keeping Ohio’s economy moving.”
Interstate 75, he said, is one of Ohio’s main corridors which requires constant investment because it’s good for business and good for northwest Ohio’s economy and work force. Wannemacher rests directly along I-75 on the south end of Lima.
“Transportation represents an investment in our state’s future and Ohio’s future,” he said.
But according to Wray, the way transportation in Ohio is funded is at serious risk of running out of gas.
“ODOT has a $1 billion budget short fall, one that could delay large-scale, economically vital transportation projects,” Wray said. “The cost is less gas tax, which is our primary source of funding, higher construction costs and a federal stale-mate over a long-term national transportation funding plan.”
But Ohio is forging ahead, he said, and not waiting for Washington to help them solve their problems. They are working to reduce operating costs and finding new ways to be as effective and efficient as possible.
“We’re also working on new and innovative ways to deliver much-needed transportation projects,” Wray said. “ODOT recently created the division of innovative delivery which will focus on new ways to generate additional transportation funds.”
ODOT is also exploring the opportunity to seek sponsorship and naming rights for certain infrastructure projects, according to Wray. All of these things, he said, will be able to save the state anywhere between $100 and $200 million annually.
The Ohio Turnpike was another point of discussion, as he said it plays an integral role in Ohio. Wray said there are three possibilities for the turnpike: leave it as is, roll the turnpike’s operations under ODOT and sell bonds against future toll revenue, or seek out a concessionaire and seek to lease out the turnpike, or possibly some combination of the three.
“We’re not slowing down; we have an obligation to take care of the system we have,” Wray said.
By TY THAXTON
Times staff writer