Cincinnati forced to halve street repairs due to rising costs

CINCINNATI (WXIX) — More than half of the roads slated for repair under Cincinnati’s street rehabilitation program will now remain as they are driven by rising costs across the board.

Department of Transportation and Engineering Director John Brazina informed Mayor Aftab Pureval and city council members of the reduced forecast in a memo dated Friday.

The city council sets an average number of “miles of track” that the program should be funded to repair. Previously, it set the number at 100, and each year the administration allocates enough money in the capital budget to achieve this goal.

The approved biennial capital budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year allocates $17.1 million to the program for the fiscal year that begins October 1. DOTE believes it will receive an additional $9.2 million in outside grants for street rehabilitation projects.

But that 100-mile goal is now “impossible to achieve”, according to Brazina.

According to Brazina, only 49 miles of track will be rehabilitated. Another 24 miles of track will undergo preventive maintenance.

The problem is that material and labor costs are higher than expected, due to inflation, labor shortages and other external factors, Brazina says.

The cost of rehabilitating one mile of track, including staff time and construction costs, was projected at $330,000. Currently, construction costs alone have soared to $500,000 per mile of track. The final cost per mile of track will be higher taking into account personnel.

Preventive maintenance cost per track mile also increased from $47,741 to $70,466, again only considering construction costs.

As previously stated, the situation should be the same in the surrounding municipalities of Cincinnati, including Butler County.

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Elsewhere, the City has taken steps to hedge against rising fuel prices. It buys diesel fuel and gasoline futures to lock in fuel costs several years in advance.

According to a March memo from Acting City Manager John Curp, the city is currently hedged through fiscal year 2024, reducing price volatility for 75% of the city’s fuel supplies. The city will only see price increases on the 25% of uncovered diesel and gasoline over the next 18 months.

But inflationary pressures are not the only risk. In November 2021, a downturn in the supply chain that supplies the City with diesel placed its emergency diesel reserve 25% below normal levels. Consequently, the City is reducing essential services and asking services to ration their supplies.

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