LIMA — For Allen County’s 2019 road program, the Allen County Engineer’s Office expects to increase spending by 36% — from $1.66 million to $2.26 million — in order to pave roughly four more miles of road in total.
Allen County Engineer Brion Rhodes said the county has paved four miles of county roads each year on average for the last decade. In 2019, that number is up to 5.4 miles of county roads.
In total, the 2019 road program is set to pave 14.3 miles of both county and township roads. In comparison, the 2018 road program paved 10.5 miles.
Rhodes estimates the county needs to pave 22 miles of county roads each year in order to keep the county’s 322 miles of roads from reaching past their expected end-of-life. Since that hasn’t been the case, the county has switched its primary tactic from replacing pavement to chip sealing.
“Chip sealing is our mainstay,” Rhodes said. “It’s our preservation tactic.”
The county estimates it will use 470,131 seal gallons and 15,594 tons of stone to chip and seal 87.7 county and township miles in 2019.
Rhodes said the recently passed increase in Ohio’s gas tax, which will bump the state gas tax to 38.5 cents per gallon thanks to a 10.5 cent-per-gallon increase, will help the county start paving more roads in the future, but the increase will not likely solve the larger issue of deteriorating roads.
“It’s not going to solve our problems, but it will help,” Rhodes said. “It will move us into a proactive state instead of a reactive state that we’ve been dealing with for so many years.”
Even with the recently-approved increase, Rhodes estimated Ohio municipalities will be pushing for another gas tax hike in five to six years, as the General Assembly’s final budget didn’t tie the gas tax to inflation, as Gov. Mike DeWine had initially proposed.
The county has not incorporated increased earnings from the gas tax into 2019 budgets due to lack of information available. Rhodes expects some of the tax collected will be available for county use by early winter or late fall.
Outside of the gas tax, county road budgets will also see revenues increase throughout this year due to increases in the permissive license fee enacted by Allen County commissioners in 2018.
While there are no substantial road projects slated for 2019, Roadway Engineer David Louth said the entirety of Buckeye Road in Shawnee Township is set to be repaved sometime in 2020.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.