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Published: Tuesday, 2/24/2009

'Shovel ready' projects await funds to begin

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Oregon alone has seven "shovel ready" projects totaling nearly $9.9 million - including two that would provide roughly 150 construction jobs each - that could qualify for funding from the federal economic stimulus plan approved last week.

Wood County has $13 million worth of projects involving more than two dozen bridges and about eight miles of roads under the county's watch for which officials would like to secure stimulus funding. And Perrysburg Township hopes to finally get help with at least $350,000 needed to fill in the ditch and widen part of Mandell Road.

"We've been trying to get the Mandell Road section project completed for the last several years," Kraig Gottfied, Perrysburg Township road supervisor, said of the stretch between Lime City and Glenwood roads.

"You can't get anything unless you submit something," he added.

Municipalities and counties are hoping to get part of the $787 billion stimulus bill President Obama signed into law last week for projects that are deemed shovel ready. How much will trickle to the suburban Toledo area and what criteria will be used to assess projects nationwide are unknown, local officials say.

"We're all waiting and hoping that we'll be able to get something out of it," said Ray Huber, Wood County engineer.

So far, for example, about $90 million worth of local transportation projects have been submitted to the state for consideration in getting economic stimulus funding, and local entities are expected to get about $12 million, said Peggy Ricard, spokesman for the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments.

To be "shovel ready," projects should have finished plans, approval from all of the appropriate agencies, and be ready to be put out to bid, Mr. Huber said.

How projects will be assessed and prioritized for stimulus funding is a big question, and that will determine Oregon's chances for getting money, said Paul Roman, city public service director.

"I'm skeptical," he said. "I just feel that every city is putting in a lot of projects."

Some projects on Oregon's list of proposed projects for federal stimulus money have or could get other funding, Mr. Roman said.

One of Oregon's bigger proposals is improving Big Ditch, which would cost $4 million and provide 150 to 175 construction jobs. Another calls for resurfacing and otherwise improving Otter Creek Road, costing $3 million and providing 125 to 150 construction jobs.

In East Toledo, meanwhile, there are several Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority property projects that are potential recipients of stimulus funding. Among them is a $14 million proposal to reconstruct warehousing at the Port of Toledo.

Perrysburg has some "shovel ready" projects, including a $1.4 million project to improve Fort Meigs Road. Elsewhere, there are two major I-75 reconstruction projects within Wood County totaling $47.6 million on a list of potential stimulus projects.

Northwood hopes to get stimulus funding for a $616,100 project it put on hold a year ago because of lack of funding. The city is ready to hire contractors to do pavement and other improvements on Norma Place and on Maryland Place south of Venice Drive, said Patricia Bacon, city administrator.

"All we have to do is bid it out," she said.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:

jmckinnon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6087.



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