COUNTLESS OHIO bridges are in dire need of repair. Belmont County alone has a myriad of spans in dangerous condition.
Much to his credit, Gov. John Kasich is launching an initiative to help alleviate the problem. Kasich has announced plans that the state will invest $120 million to repair and replace more than 200 county- and city-owned bridges over the next three years.
That is a huge undertaking. It is one also long overdue and one that will make travel much safer.
The work is targeted to start early in 2014 with 40 bridges earmarked for the initial repairs. It cannot begin soon enough, as faulty bridges place too many travelers in harm’s way.
When it comes to bridges, Ohio is one of the nation’s leaders in abundance. The Buckeye State is home to 44,000 bridges. That is the second-highest number in the U.S., trailing only Texas.
With such a massive amount of bridges, Ohio’s repairs may span decades.
After 2014, ODOT will team with local officials in targeting the bridges which need repairs or replaced. Safety and local-job creation will be two of the major factors in selecting repair projects.
The project will obviously carry a huge price tag. But it will not be one shouldered by Ohio residents.
Funding for the work is being generated through Ohio’s successful efforts to overhaul highway funding by reducing overhead costs and improving ODOT’s efficiency.
The results have been overwhelmingly successful as ODOT enhanced efficiency has freed up more than $600 million. That is being parlayed with an additional $1.5 billion generated from the turnpike which inflates to $3 million when federal funding is added to the mix.
Bridge safety is a major concern both here in Eastern Ohio as well as throughout the Buckeye State. Kasich’s ambitious repair program will go a long way in making our roadways safer at no financial hardship to those who use those bridges.