Athens County Forming Transportation Improvement District

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A Transportation Improvement District — a mechanism for seeking project funding from the Ohio Department of Transportation — is being formed in Athens County.

The county commissioners voted Tuesday to create the district, and appointed a five-member board that will screen applications to be submitted for funding. Members of the board include the county engineer and the president of the county commissioners, as well as the mayor of Athens, the city manager of Nelsonville and the president of the Athens County Township Trustees Association, or their designees.

County Engineer Jeff Maiden recommended creation of the district, and apologized for bringing the proposal to the commissioners on short notice. The deadline to register the district with ODOT is May 15, and the commissioners voted to allow Commission President Lenny Eliason to sign the necessary paperwork.

In order to show need for the district, it must be demonstrated there are $10 million worth of current or future projects that need funding assistance, Maiden said.

ODOT has $3.5 million available statewide in competitive grant money for fiscal year 2015, which begins July 1. The deadline to apply is May 30. Funding can be used for engineering, right-of-way acquisition and construction.

“I think the TID is a good thing for Athens County, and they will see some benefit from forming that,” said Debra Fought of ODOT District 10.

According to Maiden, the board created Tuesday will approve projects for submission to ODOT for possible funding.

Maiden said he wants to seek $250,000 to help fund a $650,000 paving project on County Road 53 (Lottridge-Bethany Ridge). He said the county has already secured $400,000 in grant funding for the project.

Maiden said he is considering other projects for possible submission, including County Road 7 (Johnson) that goes past Athens High School. Some repair on bad sections of the road has already been done, but more remains to be completed.

According to Maiden, the Athens County Transportation Improvement District will be the 15th in the state. Athens County is part of ODOT District 10, and Maiden said Gallia County has the only other Transportation Improvement District within District 10.

Nelsonville City Manager Mark Hall said Wednesday morning that he had not yet been notified of his appointment to the board, but said he is willing to serve. At this point, he said, the city does not have a project it wants to submit by the May 30 deadline.

Likewise, Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl had not been notified, but said that he will be talking with Eliason to get details.