Fix Our Roads Ohio Logo - Putnam Sentinel

OHIO — A coalition of government associations, economic councils, and industry groups have come together in support of significantly increasing funding for local, regional, and statewide transportation needs.

“Ohio faces an emerging financial crisis in its funding of state and local highways, roads and bridges,” said Curt Steiner, a spokesperson for the group in a recent statement. “Governor DeWine is providing strong leadership by attacking the problem head on.”

Called Fix Our Roads Ohio (https://fixourroadsohio.com), the group commended the governor for his recently proposed $0.18 per gallon increase to the state’s gas tax (plus automatic inflation-based future increases), which funds new road and bridge construction, road and bridge maintenance, and other transportation priorities.

However, the coalition stops short of specifically endorsing Gov. DeWine’s proposal, with Steiner instead saying, “We urge all legislators to listen to the facts and adopt legislation that assures Ohio has a safe and modern transportation system to meet the economic and day-to-day needs of our state and its people.”

Beyond the deteriorating condition of local, regional, and statewide roadways and bridges, Fix Our Roads Ohio argues that Ohio’s transportation network faces unique challenges, with a case study published by the group stating, “Ohio has one of the largest and most active transportation systems in the United States, with 262,350 total road lane miles and 44,657 bridges. Ohio is located within one day’s drive of 60 percent of the population of the United States and Canada and ranks near the top of the pack compared with all other states in many other measurements:

  • Second largest inventory of bridges;
  • Third largest in freight volume;
  • Fourth largest interstate highway system (based on lane miles);
  • Sixth in the country in total Vehicle Miles Traveled, at 118.6 billion miles annually.

The state’s 88 counties have thrown their collective support behind DeWine’s efforts with The Ohio Council of County Officials (OCCO) issuing its own statement, which reads in part, “We would like to acknowledge and thank Governor Mike DeWine for his thoughtful and fast response in recommending a transportation budget solution for Ohio’s future.”

“Governor DeWine has a clear understanding the transportation funding needs for state and local governments. OCCO encourages the state legislature to work with Governor DeWine to ensure that proper transportation funding for state and local governments is included within the final transportation budget.”

Locally, the county’s engineer detailed some of the road and bridge projects and equipment purchases he could pursue should more funds be made available in an article published in last week’s edition of the Sentinel. With large increases in asphalt and stone costs over the course of the past 10 years, the county, and many others, has recently struggled to complete enough annual maintenance to keep county roads in good shape.

To help address this need, the Putnam County Commissioners approved two $5 increases in license county plate fees as one of their first actions of the year. The total $10 increase will go into effect in 2020, with all monies earmarked for local roadway construction and maintenance.

Now, with the OCCO announcing its support for a statewide increase in the gas tax, the counties three commissioners were asked their thoughts on DeWine’s proposed.

“Our engineer, our townships - anybody that takes care of roads needs this,” Commissioner Vince Schroeder answered. “But, it’s not going to be $0.18 [per gallon increase] in the end. Any amount will be good.”

“My point has always been what my point is,” added Commissioner John Schlumbohm, “I’m not opposed to taxes. I’m for taxes as long as they’re used in a responsible manner, and are not in excess of what is necessary to maintain the safety of the public.”