Belmont County Commissioners say they know the roads are in horrible shape because they drive them too. Wednesday’s allocation of $1.1 million sounds huge, but they say it may not go all that far, but they felt something had to be done immediately.
“Well, the reality is that Belmont County roads are a mess,” said Commissioner Ginny Favede.
“Obviously, everyone is frustrated with the potholes,” noted Mark Thomas, commission president.
“We understand the pothole problem,” said Commissioner Matt Coffland. “It’s been a rough winter.”
So commissioners approved $1.1 million of general fund money to pave roads. At a cost of $100,000 a mile, that will pave only 11.6 miles.
“Paving is astronomically expensive,” said Commissioner Favede.
“We know it’s not enough, but it’s a start,” said Commissioner Coffland. “We’ve also had the county engineer put together a five-year plan.”
“But more than that, in discussions with our county engineer, I think we can take a look at hopefully doing more patching and potentially spot-paving later on this year that will help significantly,” said Commission President Thomas.
They said the general fund isn’t for paving roads, so they didn’t have to do this.
“We have roads that are supposed to be funded by motor vehicle gas gas and license plate fees,” Thomas explained. “And the federal gas tax has not been increased since 1993. There’s less and less fuel being used, and there’s less and less taxes to pave roads.”
“Two years ago, when County Engineer Fred Bennett wanted to add an additional license fee tax, the residents were very vocal against it,” Favede noted.
So it didn’t happen, but now roads are in terrible shape, and some are considered dangerous.
“Willow Grove Road is a great concern,” said Favede. “Our priority is the safety of the community. And an accident there with a school bus could transpire.”
Commissioners say not everyone will get their road fixed immediately,but they say there’s now a list, and they can rest assured, their road is on it.