By Nancy Schaar
MINERVA – Members of the RTIP (Regional Transportation Improvement Project) were pleased with steps taken to move closer to procuring funding for the expansion of US 30. The project would provide the first four-lane highway in Carroll County and include a spur with direct links to Malvern and Carrollton.
The governing board met last week in Minerva to move forward with seeking requests for proposals (RFP’s) for a consultant to assist with the project. Discussion was held trying to determine if the group needed to seek specific criteria for a consultant or to use a broad spectrum and let the consultant give them their ideas to get the project going.
Stark County Commissioner Richard Regula said he thought the consultant should tailor the proposal to what is needed and cover what RTIP is going to do.
“I would rather have a broad spectrum. Let the consultants give us their ideas to move forward,” said Regula.
State Representative Kirk Schuring said they are in uncharted waters and are in need of professional help.
Carroll County Commissioner Robert Wirkner said that the scope of the project is in the cooperative agreement the RTIP board signed with the Ohio Department of Transportation. The Local Project Agreement states what the RTIP board wants to achieve.
Following further discussion, a subcommittee consisting of Wirkner, Stark County Engineer Keith Bennett and Regula was formed. This committee will develop a draft to submit to the members before the next meeting regarding the RFP for hiring a consultant.
As the discussion continued, the board discussed the possibility of receiving a federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant from information provided by Regula.
Regula said he recently met with transportation officials in Washington D.C. and said the next grant cycle will have $500,000,000 that will be distributed at the discretion of the Secretary of Transportation.
The application for a TIGER grant is $7,500. Those funds will be taken from $250,000 held by the Ohio Department of Transportation. The application is due Oct. 16.
Bert Dawson, Columbiana County engineer, said the grant is to be used for rural infrastructure and focuses on opening corridors to connect developing areas.
Regula said that about 50 grants are handed out each year. He said they are looking for local matching funds and projects that are close to shovel ready. The first application should be for the area part of the Route 30 development that is for East Canton. The second application could then be for the rest of the project that will cross Carroll County and connect in Columbiana County.
Regula placed a conference call to Tom Downs, a grant writer of Downs Government Affairs of Washington D.C. Downs said he saw no problem in the board submitting two grants for the project.
Bennett said the project is estimated at $80 million and, if they could get $25 million, it would let them leverage other funds from other sources.
“The project needs to be started by 2020 and can be stretched out to 2025,” he said.
Bennett asked Downs if he could get them a timetable as to what they would need for the application and Downs said he could do that.
Iryna Lendel, director for the Center of Economic Development of Cleveland State University, provided information regarding her qualifications and ideas for assisting with the US 30 project.
Lendel said they need to look at what the upstream, midstream and downstream connections would be regarding the shale usage and development in the area. Lendel provided specific information regarding what she could provide and the implementation of her ideas, stating it could be done in about eight months. The board approved Lendel’s proposal.
Schuring reminded the board they still might need to look at a proposed license plate fee that would be used specifically to fund the project.