Opinions differ on how to fund broken bridge fixes

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) - More and more bridges in the Miami Valley are falling apart and it's starting to impact drivers. This after a 2 NEWS Investigation exposed the problem earlier this year.

Dozens of bridges in Montgomery County are visibly withering away and that's dangerous for drivers.

Now some have posted load load limits on them to prevent the damage from getting worse. If they don't get fixed, these busy bridges will have to be closed.

So what's the fix? We found those in charge have different opinions.

Montgomery County Engineer, Paul Gruner said they simply can't afford to make all the repairs needed.

Instead, they're having to ban heavy vehicles like buses and semis from crossing the bridges --forcing them to find alternate routes around them.

For the winter that also means finding different ways to clear snow and ice from them.

"They are going to be using a pickup truck to do it on the bridge because our trucks loaded with salt can't cross this bridge," said Gruner.

Gruner and several other county engineers in Ohio we talked with say the people who use the roads need to pay more for them. They would like to see a small increase to vehicle registration fees or a re-allocation of the gas tax.

A bill was introduced to the Ohio state house this year that would do just that.

"It would allow counties, cities, townships to add some to the vehicle registration fees -it would be a maximum of $15 a year -a little over a dollar a month," said Gruner.

But 2 NEWS Investigates found that bill didn't go very far. We asked State Representative Niraj Antani why.

"I'm not going to favor another tax increase," said Antani, "so we need to find another way to come around and fix our infrastructure."

Natalie: What is that other way?

"I think that local governments need to look at allocating their dollars to fix these problems," said Antani.


Antani said the county needs to invest more of its money into road and infrastructure fixes, but he also says the state could stand to do the same.

"There is money out there at the state level, at the federal level that we can figure out to solve this problem and that's what I think we need to look at," said Antani.

Antani is a member of the house transportation and infrastructure committee. He says if county engineers come to the table and propose something other than raising taxes, he is willing to see what more can be done.

Many county engineers in Ohio still maintain increasing the fees for the people using the roads is a good option because the deterioration is not anyone's fault.

They say fixing these bridges is not as easy as moving local money around because many counties are already seeing less state funds coming in and bridges are getting more expensive to build and maintain.

"Inflation is getting the best of all of us. We only could do half of what we could do 10-15 years ago," said Gruner.

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