Scioto County Engineer Darren LeBrun has been in office since 2017. When he was elected, he began exploring the option of a countywide road improvement program he eventually implemented the following year. With 2022 paving projects at a close, and the County Engineering Department now looking ahead to 2023, it is time to stand back and look at the success of the program.
The program has witnessed 406 roads being paved for a total of 7,000 dump truck of asphalt across the county.
This year alone, the Countywide Roadway Improvement Project put down 1,600 dump truck loads of asphalt.
In its lifetime, the project has witnessed incredible numbers, thanks to the Ohio Public Works Grant that LeBrun pursues every year.
Since its inception, a total of $11,290,263 has been spent on new roadways. $6,774,158 of that money was ear noted from won grant dollars and $4,516,105 was provided from local municipal matching dollars.
The City of Portsmouth has had a total of $1,225,000 invested, with $735,000 being grant dollars and $490,000 being a match.
The Villages of New Boston and South Webster have witnessed $504,791 in improvements, with $302,875 being grant dollars and $201,916 being a match.
All townships have participated in the project and have witnessed $4,132,166 in improvements, with $2,479,299 being grant dollars and $1,652,867 being a match.
The County Engineer has had roads paved at $5,181,006, with $3,108,604 being grant dollars and $2,072, 402 being a match.
Finally, County Sanitary and Commissioners have witnessed $247,300 in work accomplished, $148,380 in grant dollars and $98,920 in matching dollars.
“Right now, it is over $100,000 to pave a mile of road. The grant subsidizes a lot of that work, making it more affordable,” LeBrun said. “The other thing we do, is plan everything all together, so, for example, with the city, they paid $105.50 a ton last year. This year, it was $93.20. It was about a 12 percent reduction, which is a pretty good discount when you look at inflation and the rising price of everything. The fact that we can bundle this work together, in such a volume, it means we can have better pricing.”
LeBrun knew he wanted to pursue this program when he was elected, so he spent his first year planning and writing grants. He received the Ohio Public Works grant his first application and has won it every year since.
The grant works in such a way that each political subdivision chooses the work they want to accomplish. According to LeBrun, most choose paving.
“Paving is really expensive and the grant helps subsidize it,” LeBrun said.
The townships are allowed to pick around $100,000 work they want to perform and the grant pays for $60,000 of that.
“In a township, that will pave a little over a mile,” LeBrun said. “Township roads are a little more narrow and you can get more done, because it isn’t as expensive per mile.”
The County Engineer’s office works with each township and municipality by going through desired projects. The office then generates estimates and allows the subdivisions to choose which projects they want to submit, based on cost.
The office then compiles everyone’s goals into one job and submits them as part of the Ohio Public Works grant application each October. The County is told in January or February if the funding is approved and the County then accepts bids and award after July 1.
Once the work is done, the County Engineer’s office inspects the work and then pursues the closeout.
“Everybody working together like this on a grant application scores better,” LeBrun said. “I think it is great. It is easy to talk about things you don’t like, but you have to pull together and make something happen. Not only am I an elected official, but I’m a voter and I think this is something that, if everyone saw how much work it takes across the board, then they’d be impressed.”
LeBrun credits the entire county for the success of the program.
“You know, the County is the hub of this work and the Prosecutor’s office has to come up with the legal documentation to make sure everything is legal, since we’re dealing with a lot of entities; the Auditor’s office has to keep track of all of the payments; the Commissioners approve the program every year; finally, if each political subdivision didn’t work with us throughout this entire process, we wouldn’t be able to do this at all.”
LeBrun said that he looks forward to watching the program continue work into the future.
“The goal, right now, is to keep everyone working together,” LeBrun said. “Township trustees, fiscal officers, city council, village councils—the big thing is to keep everybody working together. I am a county voter and citizen; I’ve lived here my whole life. I don’t live in the City of Portsmouth, but I am in Portsmouth quite a bit, so, if there is something I can do to help the city, or the villages, or the townships, then I think it is my duty to do that. I think this program helps accomplish that. We’ve paved 406 roads. If we can stay the course, we will really start seeing a difference. If we can keep people working together, then we can make that happen.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved