GALLIPOLIS — While Gallia County Engineer Brett Boothe addressed the House Finance Committee of the Ohio General Assembly Tuesday with regard to concerns about the 2018 to 2019 state transportation budget, the engineer said he pushed hard to address the needs of rural southeast Ohio and Gallia County in reference to the budget in pushing amendments to the plan.
House Bill 26 is regarded as the 2018 to 2019 state transportation budget. According to Boothe, he felt the best way to address his concerns with the budget was through the lens of his experience with his own county and constituents. Boothe also serves as an officer of the County Engineers Association of Ohio.
“I want to talk a little bit about the state of the county transportation system and I think a good way of doing that is to talk about, specifically, my county,” said Boothe to the committee. “Whether you’re an urban county or rural or an in-betweener, you all have your own set of problems, but a lot of those problems are common but just a little bit different.”
In Gallia, there are 454.85 miles of road to maintain with 208.92 being asphalt, 128.17 being chip and seal and 117.76 being gravel, according to Boothe’s numbers. Boothe says his budget is around $10 million including state and federal grants. To meet current needs to maintain roads and bridges, the county needs roughly $2.5 million a year.
Boothe says asphalt roads have a 15 year life before needing to be repaved. To keep up, 13.9 miles need repaved a year to maintain a maintenance cycle. Averaging four miles per year (not including grant money) in Gallia’s current trends, there is a measure of 9.9 miles a year with a cost of roughly $70,000 a mile with a shortfall cost of around $693,000 year. Chip and seal for a five year life to catch up costs around $334,800 a year and to upgrade gravel roads from chip and seal costs several times more.
Boothe proposed implementing indexing measures to ensure revenues keep pace with inflation and fuel consumption patterns. This would increase state gas tax to help with road maintenance and building projects. Ideally, Boothe would like to tie gas tax with increasing resource cost for maintenance needs to make certain road needs could continue to be funded at a reasonable pace. Boothe also proposed that vehicles that operate on alternative energy, such as electric cars, have a revenue stream created because drivers do not pay the traditional gas tax which maintains roads. Overall, he feels current measures cannot help maintain rural needs to build roads.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.