COLUMBUS — As the lead Democrat on the House Finance Committee, state Representative Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) worked hard to secure a portion of the gas tax dollars in last year’s transportation budget to assist local governments with road and bridge repairs. By working across the aisle, Cera was successfully able to earmark $5 million from Ohio’s gas tax dollars for a new program administered by ODOT called the Local Roads Oil and Shale Program.

Cera noted that repair work to local roads and bridges damaged by heavy equipment used by the oil and gas industry is quite costly. Local villages or municipalities located in Ohio’s shale region, and not currently covered by a Road User Maintenance Agreement (RUMA), were able to the program.

According to Cera, the dollars allocated to the program assists local governments with costs associated with pavement rehab, full-depth pavement repairs, curbs, catch basins and inlets, slips, slides and intersection improvements. Projects in eastern Ohio receiving funding over the next two years are located in Guernsey, Belmont, Carroll, Harrison, and Jefferson counties.

"Local governments in eastern Ohio deserve to have this funding returned to the area for road and bridge repairs due to the daily wear and tear of the oil and gas industry on their roads. While I would like to see more dollars allocated to the region for this purpose, I am extremely grateful that I played a part in getting this provision in the transportation budget last March. I also want to thank Governor DeWine and Rep. Don Jones for their support in getting this allocation in the transportation budget as well," said Cera.

Cera said the new program helps make the roadways and bridges safer for working people and local families. The funding allocated to the program has already been allocated for projects over the next two years.

"With the funds spent already, I believe this shows there is a genuine need for this program," Cera said. "I am hopeful that the program garners the necessary support to receive additional dollars for continued work on eastern Ohio’s infrastructure in the next General Assembly’s transportation budget."

Since he is term-limited, Cera will not be on hand to advocate for the program and hopes the success of the program gets the attention of other representatives from the shale area.

Details of the program can be found on ODOT’s website.