Wednesday, July 9th, 2008
By Shelley Grieshop
Grant will help pay paving costs
$1.85 million in local projects getting underway
  An unusually high number of township roads will be paved this summer, thanks to the availability of Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) funds, county officials say.
This year, a $277,952 grant from OPWC to Mercer County will help pave nearly 20 miles of township roads. More than 13 miles of county roads also are slated for paving this summer, but no grant funds will go toward those projects.
The combined paving projects have an overall price tag of $1.85 million.
The OPWC funding - part of the state agency's Local Transportation Improvement program - is received annually by the county and used every other year for either township roadwork or countywide projects.
Each of Mercer County's 14 townships have roadways on the list to be paved - some requiring less than a half mile of work (in Franklin Township) to nearly three miles (in Center Township).
Mike Borns, operations manager for the Mercer County Engineer's Office, said the roads currently aren't in any worse shape than previous ones; officials are just taking advantage of the OPWC funds to get as many paved as possible.
The total cost to pave the township roads is estimated at $967,030. Each township received an even allotment of nearly $20,000 in OPWC funds to use toward its individual paving projects. Any remaining costs not covered by OPWC funds will become the responsibility of each individual township.     Township trustees in the next week or so are expected to approve and sign contracts with The Shelly Company for the work, explained Borns.
The county roads to be paved this summer include Oregon, Wilson and Fort Recovery-Minster. Mercer County Commissioners recently entered into a contract with The Shelly Company of Findlay - the sole bidder for the job - for $887,181 to perform the work.
The commissioners said the paving projects are expected to begin immediately.
The Local Transportation Improvement program offers grants to assist in the financing of local public road and bridge improvements, according to the OPWC. Funding is provided by one cent of the motor fuel tax that Ohioans pay at the pump. Each fiscal year the organization supports approximately 180 grants averaging $250,000 per grant for a total of $4.5 million distributed statewide.
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