Prospect of state help gives Belmont County more ability to fix roads

Community

The Ohio State Legislature is expected to vote on a bill that will make the state pick up the local portion of flood relief costs they are facing.

Ordinarily, FEMA pays 75%, the state pays 12 1/2% and the local governments pay 12 1/2% also.

Even so, Belmont County was facing desperate measures until this bi-partisan bill was introduced.

Until now, the prospects of fixing Belmont County’s roads were bleak.

“Given the amount of damages that we have this year–about ten and a half million dollars total just on our county roads–that meant our match money was going to be about $1.3 million,” noted Terry Lively, Belmont County engineer.

The engineer’s entire budget is only about $5 million.

So that office was going to have to take drastic measures to finance the needed road repairs.

“I was probably going to have to get a loan and use our revenue over the next several years to pay off that loan, and that was just going to cripple us for years,” Lively said.

And the citizens were getting frustrated about the road slips and potholes.

“They are so horrible that if you hit one, uou can practically bury yourself in them,” said Emma Kerns of Bridgeport.

“Horrible,” added Joyce Scott of Powhatan. “Every road you go on. They ought to buy us all new tires because we wear them out.”

So the State of Ohio picking up the local portion of the bill for flood recovery work helped Belmont County’s roads in two ways.

“The license plate fees that were recently passed were going to be used to pay off that loan for the next few years,” said Lively. “So with not having to do that, hopefully I can get some paving and some bridge projects under way here.”

He said those projects could get started next year.

They are still waiting for word from Columbus on the outcome of the vote.

But they’ve been told there is bi-partisan support for the bill, and it’s expected to pass.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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