A conflict over whether the proposed new Missouri River bridge is a Washington project or a regional project came up during a county transportation committee meeting Thursday.
The city of Washington was not recommended to receive funding from the county grant program this year. That’s because last year the full $250,000 was allocated for enhancements to the new Missouri River bridge project.
However, on Friday the county highway department became aware of an error in terms of the total grant money available to disburse to entities this year. It turns out that there is about $50,000 more in grant funds available, according to Franklin County Highway Administrator Eva Gadcke.
Therefore, a new meeting of the county transportation committee will have to be called to cast another vote, she said.
Washington City Engineer Dan Boyce said Thursday that he was surprised his city has not been recommended for any of the grant money this year.
Now that a new meeting will have to be called to correct the error over the amount of grant funds, Gadcke said the committee may discuss approving grant funds for Washington.
Boyce added that he does not see the Missouri River bridge project only benefiting Washington but the region as a whole.
Gadcke said the money for the bridge was given to Washington. Other entities gave up their share of the grant funds last year so Washington could get the bridge money, she said.
She added, “There is no plaque on that bridge that says welcome to Franklin County. It says welcome to Washington.”
Gadcke said the bridge is on Washington’s logos and advertisements.
The $250,000 from the county grant program last year was added to $500,000 from Washington and $50,000 from Warren County to be used for bridge enhancements.
Gadcke said Washington was eliminated for funding this year because under the Franklin County Transportation Committee’s bylaws, “No entity shall receive more than 50 percent of grant funds available in a one-year period or 25 percent of the total grant funds available over a five-year period.”
However, the bylaws do allow that rule to be waived in the event that an entity has a major need.
Gadcke noted that over five years the city of Washington has been awarded $421,870.
“They were not eligible this year,” Gadcke said, adding that Washington will be eligible again next year.
Washington applied for funds for resurfacing Stafford and 14th streets.
County Grant Program
Each year, Franklin County sets aside 5 percent of the road and bridge half-cent sales tax, which this year was $250,000, for the grant program to help cities and road districts.
Also, this year there was $128,000 in extra funding for the program because Sullivan returned $128,000 that it did not use because it was unable to obtain right of way for a Highway 185 realignment project.
That means a total of $378,000 was available through the program this year.
The money was recommended to be awarded as follows: Union Special Road District, $1,824; city of Union, $92,775; city of Sullivan $30,000; Washington Special Road District, $112,638; city of New Haven, $69,575; and city of Gerald, $21,186.
Those projects only totaled about $328,000 while there is about $378,000 actually available. Therefore, the transportation committee must meet again to cast a vote on the correct amount of grant money available, Gadcke said.
The Franklin County Commission must still approve the transportation committee’s recommendation. But Gadcke said she can’t forward the list of projects to the commissioners until the committee makes another vote.
Boyce voted against recommending the list of projects to the county commission. Given the fact that Washington was not eligible for funds, Boyce said it appears he wasted his time submitting an application for $50,000.
Gadcke said the commission’s approval could come in November. But First District County Commissioner Tim Brinker said the approval could possibly be done quicker.
The county highway department received seven applications for the funds, but the one from the city of Washington was eliminated.
Originally it was thought that funding fell about $21,000 short of meeting the full requests of the other six entities.
But now that there are more grant funds available than what the committee thought, the projects could be fully funded with about $30,000 still remaining after that.
The shortfall was covered by cutting $7,224 from the city of Union’s application; $8,789 from the Washington Special Road District’s; and $5,424 from New Haven’s.
The Union Special Road District plans to use its funds for reflective signs; city of Union, resurfacing and improvements on Old Highway 50 East; Sullivan, reflective signs; Washington Special Road District, Pottery Road improvements; New Haven, Miller Street improvements; and Gerald, resurfacing and sidewalk improvements for Main Street.