New signs installed

Signs posted on River Road in East Liverpool by Road Improvement Drives Economy (RIDE) offer information on the non-profit group’s participation in the improvement project. (Photo by Jo Ann Bobby Gilbert)

Signs posted on River Road in East Liverpool by Road Improvement Drives Economy (RIDE) offer information on the non-profit group’s participation in the improvement project. (Photo by Jo Ann Bobby Gilbert)

EAST LIVERPOOL — Signs installed at each end of the recently-paved River Road leave no doubt as to how the project was funded, just in case there was any such doubt.

Gary McClurg, president of the newly-formed Road Improvement Drives Economy (RIDE) organization, said the signs and a new website, www.RIDEeastliverpool.org, are a way to get the word out about the non-profit group that helped pay for the much-needed paving project.

RIDE was formed by a “small core group of volunteers” who were “picked out at first as villains,” according to McClurg, apparently referring to discussion at the time that bulk haulers who use River Road, primarily, and other city streets should be assessed a tipping fee due to the wear and tear on the pavement from heavy truck traffic.

After discussion and negotiation with former Service-Safety Director Ryan Estell, the RIDE group was formed in December 2014 to work with the city in improving roads in industrial sections of town.

The group agreed to voluntarily donate funds to be matched in differing degrees, initially pledging $50,000, with the anticipation the same would be donated each year thereafter.

As shown on the new signs, the core businesses of the RIDE group are D.W. Dickey & Son Inc.; Parsons Terminal (of which McClurg is president); Growmark Inc.; East Liverpool River Rail Terminal Inc.; Transmontaigne Product Services Inc.; Agland Co-Op; Seaforth Mineral & Ore Company Inc.; and Six Recycling Corporation.

McClurg said, “Some companies don’t even use those roads and are still contributing.”

He pointed out there are other companies that could, but don’t yet, volunteer to help by donating toward the effort, saying, “We would like to widen this up. We’re proud of our contribution. Many hands lift a heavy load. It could be contagious.”

McClurg said RIDE has received solicitations suggesting some of the money it is donating could be used for other projects that have nothing to do with River Road or other road-related projects.

“I don’t think RIDE is putting in a new city park or new street lights. We said we would help pay 10 to 50 percent (of the River Road project) but felt strongly we didn’t want to pay the majority of any project because we felt the city should spend its share. We don’t want to use our commitment for different kinds of causes,” McClurg said, emphasizing, “This money isn’t coming easily.”

He suggested that perhaps the city’s commercial businesses would be more suitable to solicit for lighting, parks and those types of projects.

Planning Director Bill Cowan said the River Road project’s actual construction cost was $874,374.75, with another $237,234.15 spent to resurface Mulberry Street, State Street and Virginia Avenue, all of which are also utilized by truck traffic in the same industrial area.

The city secured a $1.25 million State Infrastructure Bank loan to pay for the paving and Cowan said about $98,000 remains of that loan, which was obtained specifically through the Ohio Department of Transportation for infrastructure improvements.

The plan is for the annual RIDE donations to assist in repaying the loan, with the city also paying a share of the semi-annual payments of $60,456.20, which will begin in December of 2017.

Cowan said the remaining SIB funds must be used for infrastructure improvements and an amendment would have to be sought by the city for any other project to be funded with the remainder.

It is possible the unused money can be returned to the state, which would lower the semi-annual loan payments, according to Cowan.

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