Road funds should be celebrated

Published 6:37 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Residents of Vickery Road and Butler Estates just won the lottery.

Well, not exactly, but close.

The Butler County Commission announced on Monday that the county has been awarded a Community Development Block Grant worth $335,381. That money will be used for some much-needed work on Vickery Road and Butler Estates.

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We’re sure the residents on those two roads couldn’t be more excited. We’re also sure there are some Butler County residents out there wondering when their roads are going to get fixed.

It’s a reasonable question.

There are a number of roads throughout the county that need some attention. The commissioners know that. They drive the same roads and hear the complaints of their constituents. We feel sure that the commissioners would like nothing more than to pave or resurface all of the roads in the county that need it. The problem is finding the funding to do so.

There is 550 miles of road in Butler County, most of which is not eligible for federal funds assistance.

According to County Engineer Dennis McCall, it would cost $90 million to resurface all of the county’s paved roads.

That’s right, $90 million.

Care to venture a guess on how much cash McCall has for upkeep of the roads?

It’s in the neighborhood of $3 million. That’s not the kind of gap that’s made up with change found between the sofa cushions.

Upkeep of the county’s road system is funded primarily through a tax on gasoline, which accounts for approximately $1.7 million. Another $900,000 comes from the county’s general fund and about $500,00 comes from Federal Aid Resurfacing funds, which can only be used on 170 miles of the county’s 550 miles of road.

That leaves 380 miles of roads that have to be kept up and repaired with money from the county’s wallet, which isn’t exactly overflowing, or grants such as the one the county was just awarded – a grant the commissioners chased for three years before finally receiving it.

So, it’s understandable that the commissioners had a hard time containing their smiles on Monday. You see, they had just won the lottery.