MAHONING VALLEY Federal agencies make 28-year plan

The plan includes descriptions of 160 local transportation projects.
AUSTINTOWN -- Two federal agencies have approved a plan stating that the federal government will have an estimated $1.5 billion to spend on local transportation projects during the next 28 years.
The long-range transportation plan for Mahoning and Trumbull counties was approved by the Federal Highway and Transportation agencies July 31.
The general policy board of the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments is expected to approve the plan at a meeting Monday.
The $1.5 billion estimate is a projection based on the amount of federal money that has been available to pay for local transportation projects during the last several years.
Eastgate representatives worked with local county, township, city and village officials to develop the latest edition of the plan, which must be revised every three years. The last revision to the plan for Mahoning and Trumbull counties was approved in 1999.
The plan includes descriptions of 160 transportation projects in Mahoning and Trumbull counties that are slated to receive funding before 2030. The total estimated cost of the projects is about $192 million.
James Wells, Eastgate director of transportation, said state officials most likely will plan to spend the other $1.3 billion on projects in the two counties. The state is revising plans for the federal money, he said.
Wells also said that Eastgate may add other projects developed by local officials to the plan after it is approved by the general policy board.
The dates that work will begin on the projects are not included in the plan.
Kathleen Rodi, an Eastgate projects engineer, noted that some local officials decide not to add projects to the plan because they don't have enough money to pay their share of the construction cost.
Most federal funding programs require local governments to pay at least 20 percent of the cost of a project.
"A lot of communities want the improvements, but they're struggling to get the 20 percent match," Rodi said.
Projects in the plan are required to include work on heavily traveled roads or bridges. The federal government determines which roads are eligible. Transportation projects that improve local air quality also can be included in the plan.
The most expensive project in the plan calls for state Route 46 to be widened between New Road to Silica Road in Austintown and between Blunt and Seaborn streets, which fall between Webb Road in Austintown and Youngstown-Salt Springs Road in Weathersfield Township.
The project is slated to cost $15.4 million. The Ohio Department of Transportation is expected to pay for 20 percent of the project, with the rest of the money coming from the federal government.
Work on the section of the project between New and Silica roads is slated to start in spring 2005.

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