TROY — The ballot on Nov. 3 will include a critical renewal for the Miami County Bridge Levy. According to Paul Huelskamp, Miami County Engineer, this levy expires every five years. A certified public and civil engineer, Huelskamp shared some insights on the importance of the renewal with Troy Rotarians during the club’s weekly meeting on Oct. 6.
According to Huelskamp, the renewal is at a rate of .45 mils, meaning it will cost homeowners $0.045 for every $100 of valuation of their property. Since this is a renewal, a resident’s tax burden will not change from what they currently pay. In place since 1951, the levy has generated more than $24 million to repair, replace and maintain the thousands of bridges and culverts in Miami County. In the 64 years the levy has been in use, more than 1,200 structures have been painted and 186 bridges have been replaced, including Piqua’s Shawnee Bridge and a portion of Troy’s Adams Street Bridge. The levy also provides general funds for road repairs and reconstruction across the county. Miami County leverages many other resources, including state and federal grants, to maximize the funding the levy generates. As a result of this savvy fiscal stewardship, Miami County has maintained an inventory of bridges that is rated among the safest when compared to similar structures in other Ohio counties. Of note, the Eldean Bridge, the second oldest covered bridge in Ohio, is cared for through historic preservation grants. This has allowed Miami County to use the levy and general funds for other road repairs.
The current levy will expire at the end of 2016. Without these important funds, many aging structures, especially those spanning the Great Miami River, will not be repaired. Nearly 40 Miami County bridges are over 75 years old. Many are single lane or too narrow for today’s vehicular traffic patterns and volumes. While Miami County has done a good job of routine maintenance, the steel structures suffer from rust and corrosion as they reach 50-75 years in use. Back in 1951, the levy would have been enough to support the entire bridge program. Today, with inflation affecting repair and replacement costs, only eight bridges could be replaced. State law requires the County Engineer to maintain the bridges, and Miami County needs the levy renewal to continue to keep these structures safe for residents. Early voting has begun in Miami County and all registered voters are encouraged to cast their ballots on, or before, Nov. 3. For more information on early voting, visit www.electionsonthe.net/oh/miami/images/AbsenteeHours.pdf.
Troy Rotary Club members are always looking for new topics to share at weekly meetings. If you are interested in presenting your business or organization, please visit the Troy Rotary Web site at www.troyohiorotary.org and submit your information in the “Contact Us” section. Troy Rotary is a member-involved, goal-oriented service club focused on socio/economic issues that have an impact both locally and internationally. You can follow their activities on Facebook at Troy Rotary Club.