STEUBENVILLE - Jefferson County Engineer James Branagan told the county commissioners Thursday that 2011 was one of the most productive years in his more than two decades as county engineer, thanks to road work done by Chesapeake Energy.
Branagan presented his department's annual report on Thursday that showed major help from Chesapeake Energy.
Chesapeake completely rebuilt and paved 11 miles of county roads last year at a cost of $400,000 a mile as part of the road-use agreement the county has with gas drilling companies.
Branagan said Chesapeake's subcontractors either did base repairs of full-depth reclamation where the existing road was pulverized to a depth of 16 inches, adding cement and water, grading and compacting and then paving with asphalt.
Chesapeake also improved shoulders, culverts, drainage, adding catch basins and road ditches, Branagan said. Chesapeake widened roads in sections from 18 inches to 5 feet, especially in curves and at intersections, to allow safer passage of large trucks going to drilling rigs, he said.
Branagan said Clay Merrin, construction engineer for the county, inspected the work completed.
The county engineer's office also repaved 22 miles of roads and chipped and sealed 33 miles of roads. Andy Bryan, chief deputy engineer, said the county fell short of its chip-sealing work last year because the county's spreader machine broke down. The county purchased a new machine that Bryan said will help the county chip and seal more miles of county roads this year.
Branagan said six bridges were repaired and two bridges were replaced. Five slips were repaired, 574 road signs were installed and 208 miles of road markings were completed. County crews spread more than 4,000 tons of salt and 3,562 tons of antiskid material last year during winter months. Branagan said the department used 70,540 gallons of fuel.
Branagan said the miles of roads rebuilt by Chesapeake were more than the county could do alone.
"I have been pleased with the work and professionalism so far," Branagan said of Chesapeake's work. "So far, so good. I hope the state doesn't muck it up with new (road-use) agreements."
Commissioners also agreed to support the proposed lengthening of the runway at the county airport to accommodate larger aircraft. Gary Folden, county regional airport authority secretary-treasurer, said the Ohio Department of Transportation and JobsOhio each have agreed to fund $750,000. The county will be responsible for $500,000.
County Commissioner David Maple said he wants it in writing that the state is contributing $1.5 million for the runway extension. Folden said the written confirmation will shortly be coming.
The county has paid off one loan for airport work this year and a second, and final, loan will be paid off next year. The cost of borrowing $500,000 will be the same as the two loan payments either paid off or about to be paid off, Folden said.
Maple said there won't be any increase in debt to the county.
County Commissioner Tom Gentile thanked ODOT and JobsOhio for "forward thinking" on how the runway extension will help in the future development of the gas drilling in the county.
Gentile also thanked U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, for personally getting the Federal Aviation Administration to recertify the new approaches to the airport once the runway is extended.
County Commissioner Thomas Graham was absent from the meeting.
Commissioners also signed $11.7 million in loan documents for the Crestview-Belvedere sewer project. The county has received grants and low-interest loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the state-mandated sewer project.
The county will close on the loans by the end of the month or early April, depending on bond market rates, and then will hold preconstruction meetings prior to work beginning.
Commissioners also signed letters of support for the regional Workforce Investment Board to apply for $9.2 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Labor.
The money will be used to empower persons seeking employment in the gas and oil industry with industry information, basic computer skills, resume writing and job search skills, and also occupational skills training.
The regional Workforce Investment Board covers Belmont, Carroll, Harrison and Jefferson counties.