Ever wonder why some streets get salted and plowed after a snowfall and others don’t seem to get any attention? Or why you’ll hear about hundreds of thousands being spent on a road repair project and your street still looks like the surface of the moon? Part of the reason is that different government entities are responsible for different roads and streets. Sort of like a neighborhood where some of the lawns look great and at other houses, they don’t appear to have been cut in this lifetime.
Let’s break down just who is in charge of what around here. Let’s start at the federal and state highway level. The Ohio Department of Transportation, specifically ODOT District 9, is in charge of 3,700 lane miles of interstate, federal, and state highways and 1,243 bridges in Adams, Brown, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross and Scioto Counties. They salt, they plow, they maintain the road signs, and are responsible for repairs. For example, US23, US52, SR239, and SR73 are maintained by ODOT. They also award state grant money to counties for specific projects. This money can only be spent on the projects it’s awarded to. In 2019, ODOT spent $7.5 million to repair roads, bridges, and culverts in Scioto County.
The Scioto County Engineer’s office is responsible for the upkeep and construction of 411 miles of roadway split across 122 different County roads and 493 bridges on both County and Township roads. Townships are responsible for maintaining township roads under the advice of the County Engineer. The County Commissioners work with the engineer to help them apply for grants to facilitate cooperation between the engineer’s office and townships. For example, the commissioners recently were able to get Harrison Township to take back responsibility for a section of road that had been abandoned but will now be eligible for state funds. Recently a grant was made available to conduct an $80,000 road sign safety survey in the county. County officials can’t use that money elsewhere. They either have to use it for a safety survey or get nothing at all.
Then we have the Portsmouth Streets division, which is responsible for the upkeep and repair of city streets in Portsmouth. The duties of the 7-person department include repair, snow removal, guard rail repair, ditches, resurfacing, storm cleanup, and curb repairs.