Home News Press Releases Alan Brubaker releases statement on the condition of local roads and the proposed Highway Bill

Alan Brubaker releases statement on the condition of local roads and the proposed Highway Bill

Print

Summit County Engineer Alan Brubaker releases statement on the state of local roads and the proposed Highway Bill

Akron, Ohio– Alan Brubaker, P.E., P.S., Summit County Engineer, stated the following:

“Two articles came across my desk today that highlight this country’s need for a better, sustainable, adequate way to fund infrastructure in America. The first was regarding the proposed Senate Highway Bill that will fund the Highway Trust Fund for six years. Initially I was very hopeful we could breathe a bit easier for the next six years and not worry about whether or not our projects using federal funding would have to be halted when funds dry up. Then I learned that the proposed legislation contains what could be called a “poison pill”. The bill pulls funding from several different sources, one of those sources being Social Security. Many members of the Senate and House have already condemned those measures. I am now less optimistic that we will have a full Highway Bill and instead will have yet another two month continuing resolution that will be nothing but an inadequate patch for our transportation system.

The second article is the urban road report issued from the national transportation research group TRIP titled “Bumpy Roads Ahead: America’s Roughest Rides and Strategies to Make our Roads Smoother”. The report ranks the Akron area 11th in the nation for percentage of roads considered in poor condition. While the Summit County Engineer’s Office has raised the pavement condition rating average on county roads in the last six years (the average county road is 65, on a scale of 1-100), this office has done so by making extreme cuts, doing less highway expansion projects and focusing primarily on maintenance and traffic safety.

The county highway system has improved because this office has found creative solutions to ensure that Summit County roads and bridges are safe and passable but we also see that a few years down the road funding will dry up. I’m proud of our collaborative regional pavement maintenance program meant to save Summit County and our communities money by bidding projects as one entity. We have paid off old debt and refinanced it in a way that the interest on that money went back to the county. We’ve reached out to townships and municipalities and formed partnerships on various projects, such as the joint grant application with Fairlawn for Cleveland-Massillon Road and many joint projects with the city of Akron. We also partnered with ODOT for Canton Road, securing money from various federal sources; however that funding will be in jeopardy if the Highway Trust Fund runs out of money. Similarly, we’ve also prioritized Arlington Road and improvements are currently in design. We’ve aggressively pursued outside funding from other federal entities, such as the Department of the Interior for county roads running through Cuyahoga Valley National Park, making great improvements to those roads and increasing our pavement condition rating average.

We are not immune to the cuts coming from Columbus and Washington. Due to a decrease in federal funding for roads in National Parks and a low vehicle per day count, we had to turn a portion of Everett Road back to gravel. A Boston Township road, Oak Hill, has been closed permanently due to a landslide and there are no funds to fix it. A landslide on Yellow Creek Road has one lane of traffic shut down and the fix will be in the neighborhood of $1.2 million dollars. We had to take South Main Street down to three lanes and it will remain that way until such time that funding becomes available to widen the roadway and replace the bridge over the feeder channel.

We have been able to make improvements during these last six years and weather the recession and rising salt and asphalt prices. Other counties and municipalities have not been so fortunate, and the current system is not sustainable for any of us.

The federal highway trust fund accounts for half the money the states get to fund their transportation systems. That money is then passed through the state to the local governments. There are no shortage of workable solutions that will fix the Highway Trust Fund. Some of them may be politically difficult but it needs to happen. Motorists need to be safe. Goods and services need to be able to move quickly and efficiently for the economy to thrive. This is critical and I call on Washington to work together to pass a bill that will fund infrastructure now and into the future.”