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MAHONING VALLEY Transportation funding set only for year



Published: Fri, April 11, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The most expensive project next fiscal year is the 711 connector construction.

By IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

AUSTINTOWN -- Federal, state, and local officials are expected to spend about $87.4 million on transportation projects in Mahoning and Trumbull counties during the next fiscal year.

After that, the future of transportation funding in the Mahoning Valley is uncertain.

That's because Congress is still working on its next transportation funding bill. The current funding bill expires in September; federal officials have set aside enough money to pay for projects through next year.

"We're expecting to maintain [our funding]; we're hoping for more," said Kathleen Rodi, director of transportation for Eastgate Regional Council of Governments.

Eastgate officials used estimates of federal funding to create a draft of the Valley's Transportation Improvement Program for fiscal years 2004-2007. The program lists all transportation projects proposed for Mahoning and Trumbull counties for those years.

Average spending

It has the federal government spending an average of $56.8 million on Valley transportation projects during each of the next four fiscal years.

State and local governments are expected to spend an average of $13.2 million on local transportation projects during each of those years.

Local residents can review the program through Friday at Eastgate's offices in Austintown. They can submit comments on the program to Eastgate through April 22.

The comments will be used to create the final program, which is expected to be approved by Eastgate's general policy board and submitted to the Ohio Department of Transportation on May 15.

Federal regulations require Eastgate to create a four-year transportation improvement program every two years. The last program was created in 2001.

Ken Sympson, Eastgate's director of highway planning, said the agency hasn't been forced to keep any needed projects out of the program because of funding concerns.

The program shows that the most expensive project slated to receive funding next fiscal year is the second phase of the construction of the 711 connector. The four-lane divided highway will connect U.S. Route 422 to the state Route 11-Interstate 80 intersection to improve traffic flow between Trumbull and Mahoning counties.

The cost

It will cost the federal government $35.5 million and state and local governments $8.8 million.

The program also calls for federal, state and local spending on bridge work and resurfacing on 11 miles of Interstate 76 in the western side of Mahoning County. That project will cost the federal government an estimated $13.3 million and state and local governments an estimated $1.9 million.

Under the program, the federal government also will spend $8.5 million to reconstruct the intersection of Interstate 80 and state Route 46 next fiscal year.

hill@vindy.com




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