The CCAO Policy Team issues alerts to members to call them to action when timely and critical issues that affect county government are moving at a faster pace than normal communications allow.

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March 2, 2023


On Wednesday, March 1, the Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 23 (Rep. Jay Edwards), the state transportation budget, by a vote of 74 – 21. One of the provisions of the bill replaces county engineer “force account” monetary limits with a “scope of work” concept, similar to the approach used by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Under current law, the limits are $30,000 per mile for roads and $100,000 for bridges and culverts. The scope of work concept establishes limits based on the physical characteristics of projects. Projects that fall within the scope of work can be performed by the county engineer using county employees and equipment. Projects that fall outside the scope of work must be performed by private contractors.

CCAO is grateful to the House of Representatives for the inclusion of force account limits in the bill. It is expected that further work on this issue will occur in the Senate. The County Engineers Association has indicated that the provision related to culverts, in particular, needs further revision. CCAO recommends that members discuss these provisions with their county engineer to understand how they impact your county.

HB 23 establishes the following scope of work limits:

  • Bridges:
    • Construct, replace, or widen any bridge or replace the superstructure of a bridge up to 60 feet from face of abutment to face of abutment;
    • Replace the concrete deck of a bridge up to 75 feet from face of abutment to face of abutment.
  • Culverts:
    • Construct, replace, or lengthen any culvert under a roadway, including making any necessary modifications to wingwalls and the related roadway modifications, when the total span of the culvert does not exceed ten feet.
  • Roads:
    • Construct, replace, or lengthen any pipe, including a multi-cell pipe, under a roadway, including making any necessary modifications to wingwalls and the related roadway modifications, when the total waterway opening for all the cells does not exceed 85 square feet;
    • Perform any full-width asphalt surface paving operation up to 400 feet per centerline mile;
    • Widen an existing roadway up to 1,800 square yards per lane mile;
    • Perform a chip-and-seal operation on a two-lane roadway up to 15,000 square yards per centerline mile per layer, excluding any noncontinuous turn lanes;
    • Perform a partial or full-depth concrete pavement repair up to 120 square yards per lane mile. The length of the approach guardrails is not included in the approach work size limits.

The bill also allows a board of county commissioners to specify that the cost estimate for the project will be confidential and not published until after the bids are opened. In this case, the county may, but is not required, to accept bids that are more than 10% above estimate.

More information about the bill will be available in tomorrow’s Statehouse Report. The text of the bill and other related documents are available here.