As established in section 5543.01 of the Ohio Revised Code, the County Engineer is responsible for the engineering of township road construction and improvement projects.
The County Engineer oversees and assists the townships with projects related to the construction, reconstruction or maintenance of township roads and streets. The Design Department aids the County Engineer in engineering and administering some of the more common projects, such as:
- Township pavement repair, resurfacing and marking (striping) projects
- Culvert analysis, and engineering for replacement structures
- Construction or reconstruction of ditches and drainage courses in township rights-of-way
- Performing speed limit studies and submitting information to ODOT
- Analysis of intersections
- Traffic control signing and pavement marking recommendations
- Sight distance studies
- Guardrail warrants and studies
Serving as the transportation engineer for Delaware County’s 19 townships is a major responsibility of the County Engineer. With over 500 miles of township roads and thousands of culverts and sewers under township roads, there is a great deal of work that is accomplished through the cooperation of the townships and the County Engineer.
Township Request for Engineering Assistance
Due to the large number of requests for assistance that the County Engineer’s Office receives from the townships, the County Engineer has established a procedure for submitting these requests.
All engineering requests must be submitted by resolution of the Township Board of Trustees on the “Request for Engineering Assistance” form provided by the County Engineer. The form must be approved and signed by at least two of the three township trustees and must explain, in detail, the type of assistance required.
Annual Purchasing Contracts
Frequently used materials and services are open to use by Delaware County’s Cooperative Purchasing Partners, which includes all 18 townships, Delaware County Preservation Parks and the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District. For more information please contact Doug Riedel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Engineering for Major Township Road Improvement Projects
The County Engineer’s Design Department staff performs engineering and project management for Township road improvement projects. In many cases, the Engineer’s staff prepares the construction documents “in-house” for a contractor to perform the work. On major road construction projects, however, the Engineer usually must hire a consulting engineer to assist with the preparation of the plans, specifications and estimates for construction contracts due to the amount of time required for roadway projects.
Engineering services provided by consultants, while certainly worthwhile, can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and require a significant investment of time by in-house engineering staff to manage the consultant contract and coordinate work with the township. For this reason, not every request to engineer a township project can be initiated immediately.
Townships seeking to undertake a major construction project, such as road widening, should nominate a representative from the township to contact the Delaware County Engineer and schedule a meeting to discuss the desired project scope. The County Engineer can assist the Township in creating a preliminary scope of work and a budget for the desired project. If a scope of work and project budget is agreed upon by the County Engineer and Board of Trustees, the County Engineer will enter the project into the Capital Improvements Program at the earliest possible date. The Engineer will schedule the design to be performed by the Design Department staff or will solicit letters of interest for consulting firms to perform the work.
Due to the number of projects programmed in the County CIP plan, it may be several years before engineering, right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation can be completed on a particular project. Townships should expect that from initial project commencement to completion of construction may take several years for major projects.
Funding Sources for Local Transportation Improvement Projects
There are several funding sources available for local transportation projects, other than using local revenue. Two of the common sources for funding are as follows:
- Ohio Public Works Commission Funds:
Click here for more information on OPWC projects.
- County Surface Transportation Program (CSTP):
Funds are made available to counties and townships for roads that are defined as “Major Collectors” or “Arterials”. “Rural local roads” and “minor collectors” are not eligible for funding. Please contact the County Engineer for more information on road classifications.
This program is targeted at improving roadway safety. 50% of funds must be spent on “safety related projects”, as determined by CEAO. This includes projects such as safety studies, installation of guardrail or raised pavement markers and other items which are specifically targeted to improve safety.
This program is a federal-aid program administered by the County Engineer’s Association of Ohio (CEAO). Projects must go through ODOT’s Project Development Process as a Local Public Agency (LPA) project. ODOT can assist the LPA in preliminary engineering, right-of-way acquisition, bidding and construction engineering, but all preliminary engineering and right-of-way costs must be paid by the local agency. Eligible project costs only include construction and construction engineering portions of the project, and can receive up to 80% federal funding.
Due to the complexity of federally-funded projects, it is advisable that only larger projects to which a significant amount of time and resources can be devoted should be considered for federal-aid.
CSTP projects are programmed 6 years in advance of funding availability to allow sufficient time to perform preliminary engineering and right-of-way acquisition. Projects approved in 2006 are available for funding in state fiscal year 2012.
State Capital Improvements Program (SCIP) & Local Transportation Improvements Program (LTIP)
These programs were originally created in 1987 (SCIP) and 1989 (LTIP) to assist local governments such as cities, villages, townships and counties to improve their infrastructures. In November 2005, funding for the SCIP program was renewed with passage of State Issue 1 as part of the “Jobs for Ohio” program.
Grants and/or loans are made available to all political subdivisions in Ohio, including cities, villages, townships and counties for road, bridge, culvert, sewer and water/wastewater system improvements. These funds are administered through the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC). Click here for more information about these programs. www.pwc.state.oh.us/mission
The Application Process
Applications can be made by any political subdivision for funding assistance on infrastructure projects such as road, bridge, culvert, sewer, water and wastewater system projects. Applications are usually due each year on the first Friday in October. Funding for approved projects becomes available the following July, which is the start of the state fiscal year.
Applications are first submitted to the District Public Works Integrating Committee which reviews each application and makes a recommendation to OPWC to approve funding. Delaware County is part of OPWC District 17, which is comprised of Delaware, Fairfield, Knox, Licking, Marion, Morrow and Pickaway counties.
Once a project is approved for funding, a grant agreement is issued around July 1. This agreement is sent to the local agency for approval. Projects can extend into the following years depending on the size and complexity of the work.
What Funds are Available?
Both grants (do not have to be repaid) and loans (both low interest and no-interest) are available through OPWC. Maximum funding amounts can vary from year to year depending on the state allocation of funds. In Round 21 (2006), about $7.8 million dollars was available in District 17 through both grants and loans. All applicants within the district must compete for these dollars since funding requests far exceed the available funds each year.
The Local agency must contribute at least 10% local share to the project, either in the form of payments or force account (in-kind) contributions. The greater the local share, the higher an application scores.
Application Scoring Criteria
District 17 Integrating Committee has established a list of grading criteria as of June 2006 that all funding applications will be scored by. These criteria include the following items:
- Infrastructure Needs of the District:
- high average daily traffic on the road or more people served by the system scores higher
- Age and Condition of the System:
- older and poor condition systems score higher
- Generation of Revenue in the Form of User Fees
- systems such as water/wastewater systems generate fees to the user and score lower
- Importance to Health and Safety:
- Projects that improve safety or health of users (or motorists) score higher
- Cost of the Project:
- applications requesting loans score higher than grants
- Effort/Ability of the Subdivision to Assist in Financing the Project:
- greater local share percentage scores higher
- Overall Economic Health of the Subdivision:
- Scored relative to the local agencies median household income relative to that of the county (lower income scores higher)
- Adequacy of Planning and Readiness to Proceed:
- Projects that are ready to bid construction as soon as a project agreement is issued in July score the highest
- Other factors:
- Project priority – high priority projects on the agency’s Capital Improvement Plan score highest
- Impact on Jobs – projects such as water/wastewater plants that generate permanent jobs score highest. Temporary construction jobs score lower.
- Previous SCIP/LTIP funding – agencies that have received previous funding score lower, and is pro-rated to the amount received
- Amount of grant/loan requested – the more funding requested, the lower the score
The District 17 scoring methodology document can be downloaded here.
Cooperation with the County Engineer
The County Engineer serves as engineer for all 18 townships of Delaware County and therefore can be of assistance in preparing applications for OPWC funds. The Design Department staff regularly assists townships with OPWC projects, both in preparing applications as well as in administering the design and construction contracts.
Delaware County is committed to improving and maintaining its infrastructure and assisting townships in doing the same. The County Engineer will provide engineering services, either through Design Department staff or through a consulting engineer, for township projects that use OPWC funds. Engineering funds and staff availability must be budgeted in advance, however, so it is important to talk with the County Engineer early on in the process so that a schedule can be made.
Scheduling is one of the most important aspects of any project. Depending on the size and complexity of a project, it may take only a couple of months to engineer, bid and build a project such as resurfacing a road, or up to several years for a major project such as a road widening or major drainage improvement.
Major vs. Minor Projects
Major projects are considered any project that requires right-of-way acquisition or utility relocation. These are typically road construction or reconstruction, widening, culvert replacement, or major drainage projects. A major project can take as long as 5 years from initial planning to construction, therefore it is extremely important to contact the County Engineer at the earliest possible date.
Minor projects are usually maintenance type projects such as road resurfacing (asphalt paving), pavement marking, or minor culvert or drainage projects that do not require right-of-way or utility relocation. These projects can typically be completed within 1-2 years of initial planning.
Design Standards and Right-of-Way Acquisition
Townships should be aware that any “non-maintenance” type project must be designed in accordance with current ODOT highway design standards. These standards set forth the required pavement width, shoulder width, shoulder maximum slopes, guardrail type and length, pipe size, signing and pavement markings. A project that seems simple such as a ditch setback can often turn into a much bigger project because of right-of-way constraints, utility conflicts, and drainage issues. Roadway and drainage projects often require substantial takes of right-of-way in order to provide adequate shoulder and ditch slopes.
In analyzing how much benefit will come from a particular project, each Township must realize that short-term inconveniences to neighboring properties will most likely result. Right-of-way acquisition can be a highly controversial part of a project, and the Township must commit to completion of all right-of-way acquisition in order for a project to succeed. Delaware County must abide by state and federal laws regarding the taking of property, including easements and fee right-of-way. Owners must be offered compensation at the fair market value of the property or easement as determined by a qualified appraiser. Many times, there are substantial differences of opinion over the fair market value as determined by the appraiser and the landowner.
Township Request for Engineering Assistance
Due to the volume of requests for assistance that the County Engineer receives from the 18 townships in Delaware County, the office has established a procedure for the submittal of these requests.
All engineering requests shall be submitted by resolution of the Township Board of Trustees on the “Request for Engineering Assistance” form provided by the County Engineer. The form must be approved and signed by at least two of the three township trustees and must explain, in detail, the type of assistance required.