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Published: Wednesday, 7/16/2014 - Updated: 5 months ago

Lucas County appropriates extra funding for underpass

ODOT will provide cost overrun if necessary

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Earley Earley
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Lucas County commissioners Tuesday approved allocating the nearly $3 million the Ohio Department of Transportation wants as the county’s share for the McCord Road underpass.

The local contribution, which is in addition to about $9 million the county has already spent on the project that will carry vehicular traffic under the busy Norfolk-Southern crossing on McCord in Holland, was more than what the state had estimated.

The county’s share had been projected at $484,059, before the project went out to bid. However, Beaver Excavating Co.’s low bid of $23.4 million was 21.3 percent above the state estimate, pushing up the county’s share to $2,976,454.

County Engineer Keith Earley, who met with state highway administrators on Friday, told the commissioners the state was optimistic ways could be found to lessen the financial impact on the county and help absorb the costs for possible construction overruns.

“We feel confident that there will be some savings on the project on what current estimates are,” Mr. Earley said. “They said they will do what they can to help cover any overruns if there are any. ODOT has been a good partner on many projects we have done through the years.”

Mr. Earley met last Friday with ODOT’s assistant director James Barna and Todd Audet, deputy director of the department’s District 2 office, in lieu of a face-to-face meeting with the county commissioners on Thursday to review the higher-than-expected construction costs.

Commissioner Pete Gerken said the underpass is important to Holland and Springfield Township and he supports its construction. However, he said he would have welcomed a meeting with the ODOT officials to have an open discussion.

“I understand it a lot more but I like it a lot less. It is what it is,” he said. “I am distressed that the Ohio Department of Transportation shows us they want to keep a bit of hands off on this discussion.”

Beaver Excavating Co. of Canton, Ohio, is set to begin work on the project next month.

The commissioners also approved the first of two steps to put a 1.75-mill tax levy for Lucas County Children Services on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The seven-year property tax request — the renewal of an existing 1.4-mills and an additional 0.35-mills — was sent to the commissioners by the Children Services Board last week after the Citizens Levy Review Committee recommended against a proposal seeking more millage. The board had asked for renewal of the 1.4-mills, which is set to expire in 2016, and additional 0.5-mills.

The commissioner’s vote to forward the issue to the auditor’s office for certification was 2-1, with Mr. Gerken abstaining out of “respect” for the Citizens Levy Review Committee and Children Services

“I think the process needs to be better. I can’t just turn my back on the citizen levy review committee. It is a sample of this community,” he said during discussion of the levy request from CSB.

The deadline to submit issues for the November election is Aug. 6.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.



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