DARKE COUNTY — Darke County Engineer Jim Surber has released his department’s 40th annual engineer’s report for 2017, detailing money received for the year, expenditures made, and what was maintained, constructed, purchased, or improved on Darke County roads and bridges.
The report shows the county spent more than $5.55 million dollars in expenditures in 2017, almost $300,000 more than in 2016. Total receipts equaled more than $5.14 million.
The total department includes the county engineer and 31 personnel, with 27 at the Highway Department and four at the courthouse office. The office performs all surveying and design as well as bridge inspections, contract management, clerical and payroll as well as maintaining tax maps, and approving all deed transfers and new surveys.
Surber writes the first-ever, county-wide permissive license fee, enacted by the Darke County Board of Commissioners in 2016 to begin collection in 2018, has been needed as shown by the latest receipts which were more than $170,000 less than 2016.
“The additional new funding will benefit all county residents, since 34 percent will be shared by 20 townships, 20 villages and the City of Greenville,” he said. “Its enactment obligated the engineer’s department to reconstruct and widen Chase Road, a one-mile road in two townships adjacent to the [Darke County] airport. This was substantially completed and paid for in 2017, which will permit the use of 85 percent of the 2018 permissive receipts for county road paving as well as 100 percent of all revenue from future years.”
In addition to the Chase Road project, highway department workers maintained and improved other roadways within the county.
“2017 was a successful year as our employees built six new bridges on township roads in five different townships, and rehabilitated five bridges with two on county roads and three on township roads,” writes Surber. “Additionally, they sealed pavement cracks on 28.6 miles, completed many projects of road maintenance and construction, and performed culvert replacements and other tasks for townships.”
Surber says spending for the year increased in the areas of fuel, bridge construction and equipment purchases. He also added the average age of the 528 bridges on county and township roads is 33.8 years.
“Darke County ranks first among Ohio counties in the total number of bridges over 10 foot span, and tenth in the entire nation for the number of bridges over 20-foot span,” Surber reports. “The number provides a constant challenge to replace older and deficient bridges and to maintain and preserve other bridges to extend their service life.”
Surber also notes Darke County’s number of bridges has been officially decreased from 531 to 528 due to three bridges on county line roads found to be duplicated with other jurisdictions.
“We contracted asphalt paving on 23.73 miles, contracted sealing on 8.90 miles, and sealed 10.52 more miles with our own equipment and personnel. We also assisted ten townships in paving,” he said. “A state grant was sought and received for resurfacing in the amount of $773,394, which was split between the county and ten (10) townships. This paid 37 percent of the $2,090,254.82 cost of new asphalt on 12.162 miles of township roads and 15.06 miles of county roads. All asphalt used was produced with an improved formulation, designed in early 2017.”
The County Commissioners established and designated 1.412 more miles of county roads for the county’s road department to maintain. Chase Road (formerly township) and Industrial Way (new) increased the total county road mileage to 522.509 which will consume an estimated $14,500 more per year in prorated road maintenance.
“Our employees have continued their great job with road and bridge maintenance and construction responsibilities,” Surber added. “We are surface-sealing more roads with county personnel and equipment and have upgraded the machinery for this process which has become more necessary due to the high cost of asphalt paving.”
He says the most difficult challenge is to maintain the county’s 522.509 miles of asphalt paved road surfaces.
“Maintaining roads and bridges involves many different tasks and responsibilities,” Surber explains. “While the most familiar are snow plowing and roadside mowing, the continual maintenance and replacement of signs, maintaining drainage along and through the roads, repairs due to weather and vehicle accidents, and the trimming and removal of trees and brush along roads are all constant responsibilities. Sealing the cracks in pavement surfaces to prevent water intrusion is a never-ending task in all but the winter months. Our employees chip-seal roads, build new bridges and culverts, maintain and repair roads, maintain and repair all county equipment, and perform all road and bridge work with the exceptions of asphalt paving and the painting of the yellow and white lines on the pavement.”
Those with questions or comments or those seeking a more detailed report on the agency’s projects and expenditures, may contact the Darke County Engineer’s Office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 937-547-7375.
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