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Supervisors see progress on road, bridge projects

Lincoln County supervisors are on track for the timelycompletion of last term’s four-year road plan that extends throughthis year, even as projects for the next term’s road maintenanceplan get under way, county engineers said.

According to progress reports provided by Dungan Engineering,PA, eight of the county’s 14 major road projects stand at 100percent completion, and work on the other six is under contract andunder way. More than $4 million in state and federal funding hasbeen spent on the various projects to rebuild, resurface andreplace the county’s roads and bridges without expending local taxdollars.

“That’s a good sign that supervisors are out there helping getthese projects off the ground,” said Dungan Engineer, PA CivilEngineer Ryan Holmes. “It’s a very good process. This list is goingto dwindle down to nothing soon.”

Among the projects complete or nearing completion in last term’sState Aid Road and Bridge Construction Program are 53 miles ofresealed roads, a relocated and improved Heuck’s Retreat Road andthe replacement of seven unsafe bridges with concrete boxculverts.

Projects for bridge replacement on International Pipeline Roadand 1.5 miles of paving on Jackson-Liberty Drive stand at 25 and 30percent completion, respectively.

“Some projects will overflow into the next term – it’s notuncommon,” Holmes said. “Projects sometimes get held up in right ofway acquisition. There are a number of things that can hold theproject up.”

The installation of culverts in place of bridges was LincolnCounty’s most common road project during the soon-to-expirefour-year plan, and looks to figure prominently in the next set ofprojects.

So far, new culverts have been installed on Carpenter Lane,Kinder Drive, Pearle Drive, Tampa Trail and at the intersections ofDickerson Lane and Nations Road and Mt. Pleasant Road and UptonRoad. Field Lark Lane and Gene Road are also scheduled for bridgereplacement.

Bridge replacement projects are also the most common workscheduled for the 2008-2011 four-year plan, and may hold that titlefor several years to come.

Dungan Engineering, PA Principal Jeff Dungan said the highnumber of deficient bridges in Lincoln County ranks it second inthe state in terms of Local System Bridge Program funding. Butsupervisors are winning the battle to replace them, he said.

“Nine substandard bridges have been replaced literally thisyear, and that’s exceptional progress,” Dungan said. “Last term,the board worked hard to get a lot of these projects ready and thisterm made good progress in getting the construction done. It’s beena good year.”

Dungan said all of the road and bridge projects in the countyare selected for safety reasons. Bridges with low structure ratingsare given priority, he said, while roads are selected forimprovement based on their condition relative to trafficvolumes.

The challenge for the coming term, Dungan said, will becontinuing to make the same progress set in years like 2008. Whileroad construction prices have steadily increased – and skyrocketedalongside fuel prices this year – the amount of state and federalfunding has remained the same.

The trend shows up in the 2008-2011 road plan, which containsslightly fewer projects and 16 fewer miles of reseal.

“There are fewer projects because the funding doesn’t go asfar,” Dungan said. “We’re talking about replacing seven substandardbridges at a minimum.”

The gap between projects and funding may also cause someprojects to be pushed back.

“Industrial Park Road is in dire need, but we simply don’t havethe funding,” Dungan said. “We’re looking at grants, and we’relooking at trying to acquire some federal safety funds for NolaRoad. It may or may not happen – it’s just one of those thingswhere we hope we can find some money.”

District Four Supervisor Doug Moak said he and the othersupervisors are concerned about how far they will be able tostretch state and federal highway funding in the coming years.

“Obviously, we wish there was more state and federal money outthere,” he said. “It’s gonna be tough. We’ll have to suck it up, doas good as we can on operating expenses and ride it out.”

So far, however, Moak said the county has been able to make thebest use of the funds available.

“The engineering firm is very aggressive in trying to use outstate and federal funding, and we’re satisfied with what’s takenplace so far,” he said.

Board president the Rev. Jerry L. Wilson is confident thatpresident-elect Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package willprovide increased funding for road projects as part of his plan forincreasing public work.

“I think the president will take care of us,” he said.