GALLIPOLIS — The recognition of a potential new funding source and the fast work required to become eligible to utilize it was a high priority for Gallia County over the past couple of months, and laying that groundwork could pay off in the form of hundreds of thousands of dollars toward county transportation projects.
Gallia County Engineer Brett Boothe proposed the development of a county-level Transportation Improvement District (TID) to the Gallia County Commission earlier this summer, and after some discussion, the Commission passed a resolution in August realizing that effort. By establishing a local-level TID, Gallia County will be eligible to apply for funding generated through state legislation specifically for projects that support one of four criteria: capacity, preservation, economic development or safety.
Gallia County is the first county TID created in the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) District 10 nine-county region and only the second established in all of southeast Ohio, along with Lawrence County (located in ODOT District 9). There are approximately 15 county-level TIDs statewide.
Boothe said the state legislature is set to provide $3.5 million in FY 2012-13 to be divided among projects submitted by the state’s county-level TIDs that best meet the criteria established for the program. Established TIDs may request ten percent of the submitted project’s cost — up to $250,000 per project — and since the funds are not from a federal source, they can be used as part of the local match often needed to leverage federal grant funding.
The local TID program development was placed on a fast track this summer because the deadline for project submission for the next available funding round is September 1, 2012.
“This program gives us the ability to go after more funding for transportation needs in Gallia County,” said Boothe. “We are pretty excited about that.”
Boothe explained that the first step was to register the Gallia County TID with ODOT, which included establishing bylaws, naming committee members and officers and aligning county and state goals. That was done on August 13, with five voting members appointed to the TID committee by the Gallia County Commission that included Boothe, Gallia County Commissioner Harold Montgomery, Gallia County Economic Development Director Melissa Clark, Gallipolis City Manager Randy Finney and President of the Gallia County Township Association Jimmy Allen. Two non-voting members will also participate on the committee, and if the model used by other established county TIDs is any indication, those seats will likely be held by Ohio Rep. Ryan Smith and Ohio Sen. Bob Peterson.
The second step of TID development involved the submission of projects to ODOT, and the committee met August 20 to complete that task. Boothe said that unlike with some other funding cycles, the projects submitted through the TID process needn’t be ranked.
“They look at each submitted project individually,” said Boothe.
The group submitted four projects for funding consideration including: a multi-million-dollar widening project that includes Hannan Trace Road and other county roads; a widening project on Bob McCormick Road; detailed design work for the proposed U.S. 35/Ohio 7 Connector project; and possible construction funding for Farm Road Phase II.
Boothe said that it will likely be a couple of months before the newly developed TID learns whether any of their submitted projects gain funding through the program, and if so, the level of approved financial support. The committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Nov. 20, in the Gallia County Engineer’s Office.