State to cover cost of Girard bridge repairs

By Danny restivo


The city is getting some repairs to its bridges with no added cost to the local taxpayer.

City council approved three Ohio Department of Transportation projects Monday. The plans will improve local infrastructure along Interstate 80, and, according to preliminary legislation, “the state shall assume and bear 100 percent of the costs of the improvement.”

The first is part of an estimated $29 million bridge-replacement project that will help repair an I-80 bridge that runs over U.S. Route 422, the Mahoning River and a railroad track. Girard Mayor James Melfi said the project is scheduled to begin in 2015, and potentially will increase revenue for the city.

“It’s important that people are working, and the city gains money,” said Melfi.

He said the increase of construction workers in the area could help spur the local economy. Melfi said an increase of workers will add revenue because the city has a 2 percent income tax. Last quarter, the city received $10,000 in tax revenue from area road workers, and Melfi believes that figure could increase with the future projects.

The added revenue is a welcome sight for a city that was released from fiscal emergency by the Ohio auditor’s office in June. For 10 years, Girard was under a state-appointed committee which oversaw its finances.

The new transportation projects will include a $165,000 upgrade to the traffic light at U.S. Route 422 and the exit ramps off I-80.

Council also approved legislation to turn portions of I-80 into six lanes from I-680 to state Route 193. The widening effort is part of an $86 million project that is under review by ODOT’s Transportation Review and Advisory council, or TRAC, said an ODOT spokesman. TRAC was designed to help existing state projects meet current financial goals after the agency announced a $1.6 billion shortfall in January. Right now the widening project is in the early stages of review by TRAC, with no start date scheduled, said the spokesman.

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