Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens Says Ukraine Crisis Causes ‘Scary’ Roadwork Prices
Due to an expected 30% – or more – rise in the price of paving, it removed two roads from the list. He said the county’s roads are in “good overall condition,” but they can’t get into the habit of putting off projects.
“Some of the township roads when you extend that, what happens is the curve goes up,” Wilkens said. “They’re fine, they’re fine, they’re fine and in the space of three years they can go from okay to not quite impassable but in very bad shape.”
For years, Wilkens pleaded with the commissioners to give him money from the general fund to step up the paving program. Commissioners have indicated that they may be willing to do so now.
The county sits in an enviable position with revenues expected to reach $116 million against expenses of $107 million and a very healthy starting bank balance of $119.7 million this year. Commissioners also approved an $18.5 million property tax reduction, which will save taxpayers about $67 per $100,000 of assessed value.
Commissioner Cindy Carpenter said she recently met with Wilkens and that if they put some of the federal funds into township roads, she wants them distributed fairly.
“How would you use that and how would you prioritize that,” Carpenter said. “Because we have the same dilemma where you use it on one part of the county and it’s very expensive because we have such a dense population, compared to the other side of the county.”
Wilkens said he was considering how to create an equity formula, but it would take a significant amount of work, so he won’t embark on it unless the commissioners commit to paying money. money, “I don’t want to spend my time doing this and it not happening.
Also, depending on the amount, he doesn’t think he’ll be able to add a significant number of projects to his program this year.
The three commissioners told the Journal-News that they generally support giving Wilkens additional funds for the roads, but commissioner Don Dixon was the only one to give a figure.
“It’s probably going to cost around $5 million,” Dixon said. “I don’t know what the other two numbers are, from the other two people (commissioners), but I say at least 5 (million). We’ll talk to Greg, maybe some more, if he can convince me.
Wilkens has two major intersection improvements planned for this year, the largest is the Five Points intersection which straddles the border of Hamilton and Fairfield Twp., and is an intersection where Hancock Avenue, Grand Boulevard, Tylersville Road, Hamilton- Mason Road and Tuley Road meet.
Wilkens previously said the total cost with right-of-way purchases — which totaled $835,389 — and engineering was $3.9 million, the state covers $1.96 million, and the county and Hamilton stand share the rest. This is the department’s first roundabout with five access points. He said they hope to start construction in early spring and finish by the end of the year. Traffic will be maintained on Grand Boulevard and Hamilton-Mason “the others will be generally closed”.
The trickiest project is on the Hamilton Mason and Mauds Hughes roads, on the border between Liberty and West Chester townships. This cannot be a typical intersection improvement due to the nearby railroad viaduct commonly referred to as a “mousehole”.
Wilkens said the traffic lights will be in two phases, north and south traffic can run at the same time, but east and west will run one at a time “people are stuck because of the hole mouse, so it won’t be the most efficient intersection.”
The “mousehole” is at the center of criminal charges from Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds because he is accused of trying to pressure county and township officials to use 1, $1 million in TIF money to improve Hamilton Mason Road so his father’s property could be sold for a senior living development.
Wilkens said the area at issue in Reynolds’ case is not part of this project, it is east of the mousehole.
The Journal-News featured a photo of the mousehole in a recent article about Reynolds’ legal troubles and Commissioner TC Rogers said the overpass appears to be leaning and “how much is it collapsing”. He noted that he frequently travels under and “I admit that when I drive under, I drive fast.”
Wilkens said they’ve been monitoring him frequently and he’s been “static” so far and not yet in danger of tipping over. In order to fix it, they need the cooperation of the Norfolk & Southern Railroad, which is extremely difficult.
The most expensive project on Wilkens’ list is the $32 million Liberty Way interchange on Interstate 75, which also includes two new roundabouts in the Veterans Boulevard extension. Construction began last year and work worth $16 million will be completed this year.
The most expensive new project is the $6 million Crescentville Road widening project from Ohio 747 to I-75 in West Chester Township.
Wilkens has always been successful in raising grants and money from partnerships with other jurisdictions, this year is no different. It has raised nearly $14 million in grants, $17 million in funding from other jurisdictions, and uses $7.4 million of its own money.
Rogers said he’s willing to give Wilkens some extra money, especially since he works so hard to get all the outside funding he can to maintain the county’s infrastructure.
“He’s been able to get grants and funding sources and he’s gotten through it,” Rogers said. “At the same time, it seems to be more in collaboration with the cantons in recent years and able to save money this way for everyone.”