Members of the public aired their concerns about county road projects to the Lancaster County Board and the County Engineering Department on Tuesday night.
The county holds a One- and Six-Year Road and Bridge Construction Program meeting annually to present plans and receive feedback. Tuesday, County Engineer Pam Dingman discussed proposed projects for fiscal year 2018, and those up to June 2023.
Dingman said her department is focusing on completing three road and bridge construction or maintenance projects in the Saltillo and Little Salt townships that will carry over from 2017. The county also has 25 road and bridge projects scheduled to begin in 2018 that in total will cost a little less than $10.2 million.
The problem, Dingman said, is that road and bridge projects receive less than 15 percent of the county budget and that hinders progress in modernizing infrastructure and making it safer and more efficient.
"It's a national problem that we're falling behind," she said. "The needs far outweigh the funding."
Dingman said that though the one- and six-year meetings promote development, the public has to understand that she cannot legally put money toward projects that haven't already been approved in the one- and six-year plans.
"I know that many of you tonight are going to talk about projects that you would like me to do, but that I simply don't have the funding to do," she said.
Many people who spoke Tuesday expressed concerns that the county board and the engineering department were not moving forward on projects.
Solo Mwania, the lead pastor at Lincoln City Church at 5001 S. First Street between Old Cheney Road and Pioneers Boulevard, came with around 20 members of his congregation to ask the county to pave the mile of road that leads to the church.
"It's an active stretch," Mwania said, one that is driven on by at least 300 families.
"Our ministries have been limited greatly with weekly meetings and stuff, honestly sometimes for safety," he said, noting the "terrible" lighting, problems with vandalism and the fact the gravel road generates dust that limits visibility.
"Paving would go a long way in making it a legitimate road," he said. "The truth is that it's hindering our future development."
Another concerned citizen was Waverly Mayor Michael J. Werner, who asked that the county extend plans it has of paving North 162nd Street to Bluff Road. Werner also proposed finding another truck route other than Amberly Road for semitrailers. He said he fields safety complaints daily from parents of students who attend the three schools along that road.
"It would help a great deal," Werner said.
Dingman said the department and the board will try to address some of the concerns at a follow-up meeting and thanked the public for coming.
"We are your government," she said. "So it's good to see you all come out tonight."