Warren County plans to spend $35 million over five years to “turbocharge” nine road projects officials say otherwise would be left undone in coming years for lack of state and federal road dollars.
In some instances, the work will help relieve congestion and improve safety, according to County Engineer Neil Tunison.
“We have such a congestion problem with some of these roads and a resulting safety problem,” Tunison said. “We want to get these projects moving.”
The potential project contributions range from more than $11 million to widen Ohio 63 from the Miami Valley Gaming racino to Ohio 741 in 2023 to more than $3.4 million to improve the ramps from Ohio 73 to Interstate-75 in Springboro and Franklin in 2022. As much as $1.2 million is planned to improve the intersection of Ohio 741 and Remick Road in Springboro in 2023.
Five of the projects and more than $30 million of the money would be used for projects in the southern part of Warren County, where development north from Cincinnati has reached east beyond Deerfield Twp. and Mason, creating traffic and safety problems in Hamilton Twp. and Maineville.
“I don’t think there’s a better use for these funds,” Warren County Auditor Matt Nolan said.
Nolan said county officials see a limited role for government “and key amongst that is infrastructure. It is critical for safety and development.”
The Warren County Board of Commissioners approved the list of projects and the five-year plan after a presentation by Tunison in late January.
Tunison’s office has been hamstrung in moving forward with proposed road improvements due to the competition for and the time lapse that comes with use of state and federal funds.
The money, from what county officials are calling an infrastructure bank, is to come from general funds that would otherwise probably add to the county’s cash reserves or be used in rolling back property taxes.
“Warren County is literally thriving right now,” County Commissioner Dave Young said during the Jan. 28 meeting where the plan was discussed.
By putting up the money, the county will “turbocharge” the projects to the top of lists for state or federal funds in coming years, “rather than wait years and years and years,” Young said.
Warren County has $7 million already set aside.
The first-year’s projects include $500,000 right-of-way acquisition for the Ohio 63 widening and $200,000 for design of a roundabout at King Avenue in Deerfield Twp., near where the county plans to spend more than $10 million in a bridge near the Peters Cartridge Factory redevelopment.
In addition this year, $1 million would pay for design of widening on Ohio 48 in Hamilton Twp., $200,000 for design of a roundabout on Columbia Road in Union Twp. and $100,000 to design the extension of Wm. Good Boulevard and improvements to Scholl Road in Franklin.
The Franklin project is expected to provide an alternative route for motorists used to using a section of Beal Road that Franklin is planning to close for a bridge project, Tunison said last week.
The money would also pay for $410,000 to design dual left-turn lanes from southbound Ohio 741, Main Street in Springboro, onto Remick Boulevard, the main road into the Settlers Walk development, and dual left-turn lanes from westbound Ohio 73, Central Avenue in Springboro, to southbound I-75.
Tunison’s office will pursue alternate funding sources in hopes of reducing the amount withdrawn from the infrastructure bank account.
At the end of the next four years, the commissioners plan to see if another $7 million has been set aside.
“This will be done totally at the discretion of the board and evaluated each year,” County Administrator Tiffany Zindel emphasized in email responses.
If all goes as planned, the county will put up $35 million toward the nine projects. More than $27 million in other funding is to come from other sources to make the plans reality.
In past years, the county has been able to finance road improvements needed in Mason and Deerfield Twp. through a tax-incremental financing district, now expired, set up around the Proctor & Gamble complex developed in 1992 and expanded recently.
The infrastructure bank is seen as a replacement.
“Not only does it replace it, we can spend it on a larger area of the county,” Tunison said.
Commissioner Shannon Jones, the lone commissioner living in northern Warren County, noted the list included projects in Franklin and Springboro.
“The northern part of the county has infrastructure needs, too,” she said.
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