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Preservation’s Price Tag

It won’t be cheap to preserve the Greater Akron area’s highway system to the year 2045.  In fact, preserving the region’s more than 3,422 lane miles of federal-aid roadways and its 947 bridges carries a pretty hefty price tag. AMATS estimates that the area will need approximately $3.78 billion over the next 27 years just to maintain its current transportation system.

As the area’s federally designated metropolitan planning organization, AMATS completed its latest Highway Preservation Needs Report on May 16.  The report estimates the federal funds in 2019 dollars that the Greater Akron area will need to preserve and maintain its existing highway system between now and 2045.  While not listing specific maintenance projects, the report describes the region’s existing highway system and outlines highway resurfacing and replacement needs and bridge maintenance and replacement needs.  The report will be a major component of the agency’s upcoming update of the area’s long-range regional transportation plan – Transportation Outlook 2045.


AMATS Engineer Amy Prater explains that the agency based its projected cost to preserve the region’s transportation system on the assumption that roadways are typically resurfaced every 10 years, which means that the region’s roadways will likely be paved twice during the report’s 27-year span.  The total lane mileage for each roadway type is multiplied by two – the expected number of resurfacings – and that total is then multiplied by the cost per lane mile provided by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) in 2019 dollars.  AMATS projects the region’s total resurfacing needs to be approximately $1.25 billion.

Along with the region’s resurfacing needs, pavement must occasionally be completely replaced.  The Greater Akron area’s anticipated repaving needs are considerably lower than its resurfacing needs.  The report projects that only 5 percent of all area roadways will be repaved during the period at a cost of about $0.16 billion.  The total cost of the area’s pavement resurfacing and replacement needs combined is just over $1.41 billion.

Bridges in Ohio are inspected annually and are rated by ODOT as “Poor,” “Fair” or “Good.”  A rating of “Poor” signifies that the bridge is deficient while a rating of “Fair” or “Good” means that it is acceptable.  The report identifies 41 bridges within the Greater Akron area with a rating of “Poor.”  The total preservation cost of AMATS area bridges is approximately $2.37 billion. 

The total cost of preserving the region’s existing highway system is estimated to be close to $3.78 billion, which is approximately 17 percent higher than the nearly $3.3 billion estimated in the previous report compiled in 2016.  There has been no increase in roadway lane mileage while there was a mere 0.6 percent increase in bridge deck square footage throughout the region.  The higher preservation costs are primarily due to increasing construction costs for both pavement and bridge maintenance. The Highway Preservation Needs Report is available by clicking here.