COLUMBUS – Gov. John R. Kasich announced recently that Ohio will invest $120 million to repair and replace more than 200 county and city-owned bridges over the next three years. The funds are made available by Ohio’s successful efforts to overhaul highway funding by reducing overhead costs and improving efficiency at the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).
Work is expected to begin on the first 40 bridges next year. ODOT will work with local officials to identify the remaining bridges to repair or replace in the following years. Bridges will be selected based on a variety of factors including safety and importance to local job creation efforts.
“When we took office Ohio faced not only an $8 billion shortfall in our general budget but also a $1.6 billion shortfall in our highway budget,” Kasich said. “ODOT tightened its own belt, freed up more than $600 million and then Ohio leveraged the turnpike to generate an additional $1.5 billion, which grows to $3 billion when paired with federal and local funds. That innovative thinking and that careful management of our resources is why we can do this $120 million program to help counties and cities meet their bridge needs. In the past ODOT hasn’t really helped counties or cities address these kinds of needs but fortunately we’re in a strong enough position now that we can and we will.”
Ohio has 44,000 bridges, the second-highest number in the nation behind Texas. According to some reports, the condition of Ohio’s bridges are better than the national average but many bridges are waiting for much-needed repairs.
None of the first 40 bridges to begin repairs in 2014 is located in the immediate area. The closest are in Wood County, where there are five. Future bridges fixed under this program will be identified in subsequent years.