Some Ohio counties short on funds return to gravel

With flat tax revenue and increasing asphalt prices, engineers say road improvement not on agenda

News Cleveland.com August 06, 2010
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Ohio counties short on funds for road improvement are allowing some roads to go gravel, Fred Pausch, executive director of the County Engineers Association of Ohio, told Cleveland.com.

“It is kind of a reflection on how times are tough for everybody right now,” he said. “I think they are trying to do the best they can with the limited resources at their disposal”

Local engineers say that they can afford to maintain roads but not improve them.

The deteriorated surface of a short asphalt street in Ashtabula County was ground up and packed down, Chip Laugen, the village administrator, told Cleveland.com.

“We just didn’t have the funding to put into [Willow Street] and were trying to focus on more heavily traveled roads,” he said. “There had been no maintenance on it for years, and the potholes were like open graves,”

Bill Holtzman, chief deputy engineer in Lorain County, told Cleveland.com that most rural routes in southern parts of the county are chip seal, a process where the road is sprayed with liquid asphalt and a roller packs rock chips to the ashphalt.

Chip seal costs 40% less than asphalt paving but is thinner and does not hold up well under heavy use.

Ohio counties are currently funding projects from the gasoline tax and license tax. However, according to Medina County Engineer Mike Salay, the revenue has been flat for five years and asphalt prices have risen.

Salay told Cleveland.com that transportation workers are in a preservation mode. While roads in Medina were upgraded to asphalt from liquid asphalt and rock chips, the flat revenue and tight budgets mean that no future improvements are contemplated.

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