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Published: Tuesday, 5/11/2004

Panel OKs funds for King span upgrade

A Lucas County committee yesterday agreed to contribute $205,086 in unspent funds from other projects to help the city of Toledo close a $9 million gap in the total budget for the Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge rehabilitation project's second phase.

While the money approved by the District 12 Integrating Committee represents only a small portion of the funding shortfall, the city will be able to use it as a 20 percent match for state and federal grants it is seeking to close the gap even further, said David Moebius, Toledo's commissioner of streets, bridges, and harbor.

"We're talking to legislators right now," Mr. Moebius told the committee comprising delegates from Lucas County cities, villages, and townships, and the county engineer's office.

The committee oversees the county's shares of two state funds: the Local Transportation Improvement Program funded by a penny per gallon of the state motor fuels tax, and the State Capital Improvement Program, also known as the Issue 2 fund. The two funds provide a combined $10 million per year.

Mark Drennen, administrative deputy from the county engineer's office, said the $205,086 was left over from numerous Issue 2 projects for which the expenses ultimately came in under budget. More such money could become available later this spring once the books on several more projects are closed, he said.

The King bridge's budget already had $3 million in Issue 2 funds as part of its $28.47 million budget. But the lowest of three bids that city officials opened in late March came in $6.5 million higher than expected - an overrun that officials laid squarely on structural steel prices that doubled after a city consultant calculated a cost estimate for the project in November.

Along with the bid overrun, city officials had not yet accounted for how they would set aside a $3 million contingency fund for the project, nor had $1.64 million in expected construction management expenses been funded.

While voting in favor of the District 12 money, Jim Shaw, the county's sanitary engineer, said Toledo should scrape together whatever surplus funds it

can find in its own coffers too.

"If you have any of your own under-runs, they should go for this," Mr. Shaw said.

Peter Gerken, a Toledo councilman who sits on the committee, said council's vote three weeks ago to seek a $4.5 million loan from the State Infrastructure Bank showed exactly that commitment.

"It's not like we're going to be back with another one of these next year," Mr. Gerken said, assuring the committee that the city will not depend on being able to tap its funds every time a project comes up short.



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