State officials have signaled the road to economic recovery runs through north central Ohio.
In an announcement made Thursday afternoon, Gov. Ted Strickland said four transportation improvement projects in Huron County will receive economicstimulus money totaling$1.93 million.
The projects are three bridgereplacements and major road repairs on a main thoroughfare in Willard.
“I think the money that has come down from the infrastructure dollars is going to be tremendous for Huron County,” State Sen. Sue Morano, D-Lorain, said.
“It will create and retain jobs. With Huron County’s unemployment rate the highest in the state, we certainly can use it.”
County commissioner Mike Adelman credited Morano with fighting for federal dollars for Huron County.
A large part of President Barack Obama’s massive economic stimulus package is designated for improvements to roads, bridges, ports, highways, public transit and rail development.
Using some of its cut of the stimulus money, Ohio is moving forward with 149 transportation construction projects worth more than $774 million.
The projects selected had to meet a number of state and federal criteria.
But more than anything else, the projects were chosen for both the jobs they create and the interconnected infrastructure system they promote, the governor’s office said.
“The 149 projects we are projecting will create more than 20,000 jobs in Ohio,” said Amanda Wurst, spokeswoman for the governor’s office.
In Huron County, the three bridge replacement projects alone could help an estimated 60 to 90 workers. Huron County Engineer Joe Kovach said he hopes to bid out the projects this summer, with construction beginning a month or two later.
The construction work won’t be anything fancy.
Huron County has about 120 similar bridges, which Kovach describes as “plain Jane” designs.
But the bridges — located in Wakeman (Ogan Road bridge), Norwalk (Gibbs Road bridge) and Plymouth (North Street bridge) — needed to be replaced anyway in a few years.
“These would have been delayed to a year or two down the road,” Kovach said. “The problem is once they are delayed, we have to do some patching to keep them alive. So we spend more money on maintenance to keep them up only to then tear them down.”
All three can only handle 10 to 12 tons of weight. School buses, fire trucks and heavy industrial trucks crossing the bridges currently concerns highway department officials.
The North Street bridge is expected to cost about $210,000, the Gibbs Road bridge about $300,000 and Ogan Road Bridge $220,000.
Most bridge projects take three to four months to build and require 20 to 30 workers from a variety of occupations — from carpenters to asphalt layers to crane operators.
In Willard, the $1.2 million in road improvements to U.S. 224 at the intersections of Ohio 99 and Fort Ball Road will spark job creation, said Brian Stacy, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation District 3.
ODOT will install a traffic signal at the Ohio 99 intersection and perform resurfacing at both locations.
“The intersections will help with the movement of traffic, and also employers on the north side of town — between the two of (which) employ over 2,000 people,” Stacy said.
North of that, the bridge located on Ohio 61 southwest of Berlin Heights will also be replaced at a cost of $444,000.
ODOT is expected to bid the projects out in the coming months.
Transportation projects in this region:
Project: Ohio 61 bridge replacement
Project 1: North Street bridge replacement
Project 2: Gibbs Road bridge replacement
Project 3: Ogan Road bridge replacement
Project 4: U.S. 224 resurfacing and intersection improvements
Cost: $1.2 million
Project: Billman Road bridge over Cedar Creek