REGISTER VIEWPOINT: Milan wants to burn bridge with ODOT

The village of Milan is sick of its bridge and is willing to give up some territory so it doesn't have pay for its upkeep anymore.
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

The village of Milan is sick of its bridge and is willing to give up some territory so it doesn't have pay for its upkeep anymore.

Understandable; the Rattlesnake Creek bridge that carries U.S. 250 is way overdue for some expensive work.

The work is too expensive for the village's coffers but the Ohio Department of Transportation says that's who should pay, because the bridge is inside village limits even though its on a state highway. (Funding-wise, there's little real distinction between a state route and a U.S. route; it's more a matter of a numbering system. The Interstate Highway System is another matter entirely.)

But Milan's move can't be seen as anything but a sign of how drastically close to the bone municipal and local budgets have become. Not enough money means not enough money, and that's that.

There's no question we need the bridge; it's on a highway that links Sandusky and Norwalk, cities for which the connection to the transportation network means everything. So closing the highway, as Milan Mayor Robert Bickley threatened to do in a fit offrustration with Columbus, isn't an option.

What state officials have to realize -- and they should, because they complain about the same attitude from the federal government -- is that lower levels of government aren't made out of money, and have to pick and choose what they fund. Shifting the tax burden from state to local is no reduction at all, because the money still comes out of taxpayers' pockets.

The downside of state funding is that priorities are set in Columbus, and we might not always be at the top of the list. But spreading the cost around the state might make each project a little less painful in local wallets.