Voters OK bridge levy

MIAMI COUNTY — Since 1951, Miami County voters have approved a .45-mill bridge levy every five years. On Tuesday, voters approved it once again.

“The levy passed by a margin of two to one and I’m very pleased with that result,” County Engineer Paul Huelskamp said. “I’m happy that the voters of Miami County have chosen to continue an over 60-year-old legacy of progressive use of money in funding our bridge program.”

Since its first passage, it has collected over $24 million, which has allowed the county maintain its 3,038 bridges and culverts for the last 64 years.

This .45-mill, five-year renewal levy generates approximately $922,270 per year for the replacement and repair of the county’s bridge system. The levy’s millage has not gone up since 1951.

Funds generated by the bridge levy will directly benefit the taxpayers of Miami County, Huelskamp said.

While some is spent directly on projects, much of the money generated by the levy is used to bring federal dollars back to Miami County. A recent example of this is the Eldean Road Bridge project.

The total construction cost of that project was more than $2.4 million, but the local share for the construction was just $148,000, or 5 percent of the cost. Most federally funded projects require a 20 percent local match.

The county maintains 222 bridges, which are 20 feet or greater in span, 22 of which are long-span river bridges. The county also maintains 123 smaller bridges and more than 2,500 culverts.

The county has a five-year bridge program planned, which includes 20 bridge projects at an approximate cost of $4 million. In addition, the average age of the county’s bridges is 41-years-old.

Currently in Miami County there are 16 bridges posted for a reduction of legal load limit. Bridges that have not been posted can typically handle 80,000 pounds.

Many of the bridges are restricted to 6 or 7 tons per axle, including two on Owens Road, another on Casstown-Sidney Road, and several others. Three bridges are posted at 4 or 5 tons per axle and include the covered bridge, and bridges on Wright and Frederick-Garland Roads.

All of the posted bridges, with the exception of the historic Eldean covered bridge, are due for replacement in the future.

By Cecilia Fox