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Money concerns for road, bridge projects

Updated: Wednesday, July 23 2014, 05:55 PM EDT
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio -- With a number of large projects in store for the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission, money will be needed to fund those projects.
Local officials are concerned that money may be running thin and how that could affect their schedule.
With one of their biggest partners -- the federal government -- only passing short-term fixes to the highway trust fund, they hope a longer term solution is found so the projects can proceed as planned.
Slowdowns on U.S 22 are a constant reminder of ongoing construction. But without federal dollars to back projects in the works, like access improvements to the Veterans Memorial Bridge or the ongoing new Ohio River Bridge venture, these enhancements to infrastructure would be virtually impossible.
“We need a big partner to do big projects,” said Dr. John Brown of the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission. “And that big partner is the federal government. They can do typically 80 to 90 percent of our project costs. And without their participation those projects won't get delivered.”
The House of Representative voted on a short-term extension of the highway trust fund, which supplies the money for projects, and the Senate is expected to give the green light as well.
Without this, transportation departments would be forced to consider deferring planned projects.
“Looking for investors to come in as private partners to do an Ohio River Bridge,” Said Michael Paprocki , transportation study director. “With that type of funding scenario, and you're only looking at the solvency of 10 more months with federal funding, it puts a little bit of doubt into some investors.”
The fund is sustained by an 18.3 cent tax per gallon on cars filling up. But it hasn't been adjusted in more than two decades.
With a $120 million bridge project in the works, and an $11 million rehaul of the Veterans Bridge Interchange, Brown and Paprocki hope a longer solution is found.
“It should be no secret, highways, maintenance, bridges are the backbone infrastructure for the economy,” Brown said. “Short haul roads, ports are all import, and the reason they're able to deliver that is because of our road system.”
A non-significant impact study allowing officials to begin  are looking at designs for the bridge and possible width of decking.

Money concerns for road, bridge projects

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