By Kelly Cantwell
Of the $4.2 million the Clermont County Engineer’s Office spent on bridges in 2015, more than $3 million came from grants.
County Engineer Pat Manger gave the Clermont County Commissioners a report on the county roads, bridges and culverts during the May 11 commissioner meeting.
The office spent $9.1 million last year on capital improvement costs, which are county road resurfacing, landslide repair, bridge and culvert replacements, the Branch Hill/Filager Road Reconstruction and snow and ice removal. That would not have been possible if the office had not successfully leveraged funds, Manger said.
Of the 384.4 miles of county roads the office has to maintain, the average age of the roads is 10.6 years. The age is the number of years since the road has been resurfaced, Manger told the commissioners.
“We’re happy to report that our conditions are pretty good on our roads,” Manger said.
The average condition rating of the county roads is 64.756.
The condition rating is out of 100, with 100 being new pavement. That number can be misleading because if one section of a road is in poor condition while the rest is not, the whole road is rated based on the one section, Manger said.
The county added a $5 car license tag fee a few years ago to fund bridges because the county was leading the state in the number of load restricted bridges, Commissioner Bob Proud said. Manger told commissioners that the fee has helped.
The average culvert condition, which is ranked from one to nine with nine being excellent, is 6.85. Manger feels that could be better, but there was little funding for culverts until the early 1990s, after which culvert conditions have significantly improved.
Last year, the Engineer’s Office spent $4.2 million on rehabbing or replacing 15 bridges, what would be a large portion of the annual $9-10 million budget if the office had not brought in over $3 million in grants for the bridge program. Manger said.
“Resources are tight but I think the thing that everybody needs to appreciate, and I certainly appreciate it, are the efforts of our staff writing these grants, because they’re very competitive,” Manger said.
The office also worked on seven landslides in six townships last year, which cost $1.375 million. The Federal Emergency Management Agency funded 75 percent of the cost for each and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency provides half of the remaining 25 percent.
Staff was then able to apply for other funding for the remaining amount. Of the $1.375 million spent, the county only provided $75,000 of that, Manger said.
The funds for the resurfacing program, which spent almost $1.6 million, were all local in 2015. It is possible to get grants but the staff has put their efforts towards bridge grants previously, Manger said.
Of the two road improvements in 2015, the Branch Hill Guinea Drainage Project is still wrapping up. The staff was able to get about $1 million of the $1.3 million spent in grants, Manger said.
Last year was a big year for the Engineer’s Office, but 2016 is as big or bigger, Manger said.
“I applaud our county engineer for all the projects that are going on. He has an excellent team. When you look at the enormity of what goes into, again, keeping the roads safe, keeping our bridges safe, it’s a non-ending and at times very expensive but extremely necessary,” Proud said.
He is impressed with how well the office is at leveraging money and praised their dedication.
Proud encourages residents to call if they see an issue on the roads.