The Butler County Engineer's
Office receives many inquiries each week from the public via
this web site and telephone. While usually project or problem-specific,
there are often common themes that recur in many questions and
We have addressed some
of these frequently asked questions below. If you don't see an
answer to something that's been on your mind, please contact
us with your inquiry and it may be added to this page.
Glossary - For our glossary of engineering
and frequently used terms here on www.bceo.org, click
or scroll to the lower portion of this page.
- Q1: Why don't you maintain all
roads in the county?
- Q2: Don't you occasionally perform
projects on state routes?
- Q3: How many more accidents will
it take to finally get this road or that intersection improved?
- Q4: I pay taxes. Why can't you
just fix my road?
- Q5: Why is funding such a problem?
- Q6: If the money is available
for a particular project, why does it take so long to get the
- Q7: Why does it take some projects
so long to get started once design plans are complete?
- Q8: OK, so the project is under
construction. But why is it taking so long?
- Q9: Why can't you lower the speed
limit on my road? How are speed limits determined?
- Q10: Why can't you install traffic
signals at an intersection or turn it into a four-way stop to
make it safer ?
- Q11: Why does it seem like more
money is being spent on projects in the eastern half of the County
versus the western half?
- Q12: What is the difference between
a public road and a private road?
- Q13: What is the difference between
a dedicated road and an accepted road?
- Q14: Our school levy failed and
now they're cutting busing. The roads within a mile of the schools
are going to be a mess. What can you do about it?
- Q15: What do you do when private property
is needed for roadway improvements? Do you use eminent domain?
- Q16: Does the Engineer's Office assign addresses
and how is this done?
- Q17: Does the Engineer's Office
repair railroad crossings? Why does it take so long to get a
bad crossing fixed?
- Q18: Does pre-treating the roads
with salt brine before a winter storm really work?
- Q19: How do you inform the public
of upcoming road closures?
- Q20: How are roadway detours determined?
Why doesn't the Engineer's Office detour traffic onto smaller
- Q21: Instead of sending motorists
on long detours why don't you build a temporary bridge or road
around the project?
- Q22: There is so much road construction
I can't get from here to there. Why does it seem like everything
is closed simultaneously?
- Q23: Why couldn't you wait until
school is out for the summer to start this project and close
the road? It is causing havoc for the school buses and parents
trying to get their children to school.
- Q24: What can be done about the
narrow railroad underpasses through which many County and township
roads must squeeze?
- Q25: Won't a flashing yellow light
draw more attention to a sign?
- Q26: Can you explain the address
numbering system and layout?
Why don't you maintain all roads in the county?
A: The Ohio Revised Code (ORC)
Section 5543.01 states that the county engineer and his staff
are responsible for the "construction, reconstruction, maintenance,
and repair of all bridges and highways within his county that
are under the jurisdiction of the board of county commissioners."
This is known as the County road network. There are four distinct
roadway systems in Ohio:
- State: The Ohio Department of Transportation
has responsibility for the maintenance and upgrade of State and
U.S. Federal highways. Examples -- Interstate 75, U.S. 27, Ohio
73. All intersections along state-maintained highways are also
the responsibility of the State.
- County: Each county in Ohio is responsible
for its own network of roads that fall under the jurisdiction
of the county commissioners. Examples -- Tylersville Road,
Jacksonburg Road, Stillwell Beckett Road. For a complete list
of all BCEO-maintained roads, click
- Township: Each board of township trustees
is responsible for its township's road system. Examples -- Beckett
Ridge Boulevard (West Chester Twp), Bridgeton Manor Court (Liberty
Twp), McCoy Road (Reily Twp). Bridges on the township systems
are the full responsibility of the county.
and villages have responsibility for the streets and alleys within
their corporation limits. Examples -- Breiel Boulevard (Middletown),
Main Street (Hamilton), Campus Avenue (Oxford). Some bridges
within municipalities are the responsibility of the county.
The ORC also states
that the county engineer's office is responsible for the "construction,
reconstruction, resurfacing, or improvement of roads by boards
of township trustees..." This means that the county engineer
serves as the engineer for the townships and their network of
roadways as well. That is why the BCEO works with the trustees
on the planning and engineering of their projects.
Don't you occasionally perform projects on state routes?
A: It is not uncommon for us
to spend County money in a good faith effort to expedite State
projects. We have worked with the Ohio Department of Transportation
on their roads, often agreeing to provide design and engineering
plans to speed up the process of getting a project to construction.
Unfortunately, the County roadway infrastructure alone has become
so overburdened with traffic and safety issues it is becoming
increasingly more difficult to justify spending local County
money on a State project versus putting the money into our own
How many more accidents will it take to finally get this road
or that intersection improved?
A: We can engineer a solution
to any traffic problem that exists, but finding the necessary
funds to build the solution is another matter. Obtaining the
money to fix congested roads, dangerous intersections, and aging
bridges is the most difficult task with which the BCEO must contend.
Projects are prioritized based on traffic and capacity issues,
accident history, and available financing. There are many projects
the County, State, and smaller local governments recognize need
to be completed. But finding the money to accomplish these capital
improvements is extremely difficult. One of our most important
tasks is to seek out and utilize every funding source available.
Our experts work hard to leverage as much outside state and federal
grant money as is realistically possible.
Sometimes a serious
accident occurs at an intersection which has virtually no accident
history and we are asked why something can't or hasn't been done.
As previously stated, we have to prioritize projects based on
statistics. While that may sound cold it is all we have to go
by since nobody can magically predict where the next serious
accident will occur. Every road and intersection has the potential
to be the site of an accident. We simply can't throw money at
every single road and intersection in the County, especially
those which have virtually no accident history. Our budget won't
allow for what in some cases would be a very costly over-engineering
of the entire roadway system. This would not only be impossible
but would be an irresponsible use of taxpayers' money and still
would not eliminate accidents resulting from driver error, which
constitute the majority of all accidents. While we strive hard
to make Butler County's roads safe for the motoring public, the
issue of driver responsibility, frankly, cannot be brushed aside.
We can engineer only up to the point of human error.
Engineers can build
the safest road or intersection possible based on modern design
standards, but one can never completely eliminate the factors
of driver error and inclement weather. Excessive speed, inattention,
driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, blinding sun,
snow and rain can all contribute to accidents. Your County Engineer
encourages motorists to drive safely, respect the rules and other
drivers, and always wear a seat belt. Most roads are safe if
one drives responsibly and obeys the signs and speed limits.
For safe driving tips, please click
I pay taxes. Why can't you just fix my road?
A: Funds for road and bridge
improvements are generated primarily from license plate fees
and gasoline taxes. The Engineer's Office receives no money from
property taxes or the County's general fund. Therefore, our income
is relatively limited so we are forced to do more with less.
For a full overview of "where the money comes from,"
Why is funding such a problem?
A: Although Butler County's population
is increasing, revenues from gas taxes and license plate fees
-- our primary sources of income -- have remained relatively
flat. Moreover, Butler County's status as one of the State's
largest counties makes it a donor county. When revenues are distributed
by the State of Ohio, Butler County actually gets back less than
it puts in. A portion of our gas tax money goes to smaller counties
that can't generate adequate revenues due to their limited populations.
In a way, we are a
victim of our own progress. As noted above, the BCEO receives
no money from local property taxes. The explosive growth
and economic development taking place in Butler County helps
build the commercial tax base for our communities and schools
but the Engineer's Office receives none of this money.
And yet the new roads we've built to accommodate this growth
and facilitate progress drives up our maintenance costs substantially.
Increased road miles, additional lanes, and more traffic signals
means more salting and plowing, paving and striping, signing,
guardrail, bridge and culvert maintenance. Our cost to upgrade
and maintain the roadway infrastructure is also subject to inflation.
Each year we pay more for blacktop, salt, materials, and labor.
Another important funding
factor is that Butler County's commercial and residential growth
generates more congestion problems and safety issues. This means
the scope of many projects is larger than ever before, thereby
generating higher engineering and construction costs for the
If the money is available for a particular project, why does
it take so long to get the project built?
A: In some cases, state and federal
grant money is approved and available but not programmed (or
budgeted) until a specific year. Moreover, the use of federal
funds almost always requires that an Environmental Assessment
be performed to determine a project's impact on the surrounding
environs, including wetlands, wildlife, archaeological features,
historical structures, and the local economy. In some cases,
the initial assessment may indicate that a complete Environmental
Impact Study is required, which can be very costly and time-consuming.
It is also important
to remember that all projects require basic planning and engineering.
Safety and common sense dictate that new bridges, roadway improvements,
and intersection upgrades be designed by qualified and licensed
civil engineers. This of course involves time and careful engineering.
The bigger the project, the more extensive the design phase will
Why does it take some projects so long to get started once design
plans are complete?
A: It is important to understand
why the government cannot move in with bulldozers and start work
right away. There are many steps designed to protect our citizens
which must be completed before construction can proceed. For
example, after design plans have been finalized, we must acquire
right-of-way. When private property must be acquired, there is
a process which must be followed to compensate the property owner.
Purchase of private land usually proceeds smoothly but occasionally
an agreement cannot be reached. The government may acquire the
land through eminent domain and proceed with the project,
but not until a settlement has been reached. The concept of eminent
domain gives the government the right to use private land,
but this is strictly based upon a fair assessment of its value.
Sometimes fair market value must be determined through the courts
and a trial. Unfortunately, this scenario can slow down a project.
There are also numerous
above-ground and underground utilities which must typically be
relocated before any project can begin. Easements and permits
must be obtained prior to relocating utilities. Again, it is
a lengthy and time-consuming process to move telephone lines,
TV cable, water and gas mains so as to not interrupt service
to thousands of homes and businesses. Gas mains pose a particular
hazard to workers digging in their vicinity. Unless these are
carefully located and moved before digging, an explosion could
result in the death and injury of many workers and citizens near
the construction area. Once all right-of-way has been acquired
and all affected utilities have been relocated, construction
OK, so the project is under construction. But why is it taking
A: There are several factors that
the neither the BCEO nor the construction contractor can control.
The most obvious of these is weather -- a very important factor
in the road construction business. Rain can hamper progress even
on a sunny day. When there is earthwork to be performed at a
project site, the ground must be dry enough to work. Several
days of sunshine may be required to dry a project site and then,
unfortunately, sometimes it rains again.
Delivery of materials
can be delayed. For example, a new bridge may be nearly complete,
but the guardrail cannot be installed because it has not arrived.
Safety factors and the law prohibit us from opening a bridge
to traffic without guardrail.
Why can't you lower the speed limit on my road? How are speed
A: There are very strict rules
which govern the posting of speed limits. The Engineer's Office
is not at liberty to randomly raise and lower speed limits, as
these are strictly determined by the State of Ohio Manual of
Uniform Traffic Control Devices, per the Ohio Revised Code. While
this may sound rigid, the State has implemented these rules to
provide uniformity throughout the Ohio which in the long run
makes driving safer for all motorists. In the unincorporated
areas for which we the County have responsibility, every speed
limit change must be approved by the Ohio Department of Transportation
(ODOT). A speed study must be performed and submitted to ODOT
in order to determine if a road or stretch of roadway meets specific
speed limit warrants. As part of this study, accident history
and roadside development are reviewed. While a speed study may
result in the lowering of a posted speed limit, enforcement is
usually the issue, not necessarily the speed limit itself.
County and Township
roads have different parameters than state routes and roadways
located within a municipal corporation. Any platted subdivision,
residential or commercial, is subject to a 25 mph speed limit,
school zones 20 mph. All other county and township roadways are
statutory 55 mph until a speed study is completed and approved
A speed study is based
on five factors:
- Highway development
-- The number of access drives and intersections along the studied
stretch of roadway;
- Roadway features --
Lane widths, shoulder widths, and geometric characteristics;
- Accident history --
Accidents along the studied stretch are reviewed. Only speed-related
type accidents are included, not accidents caused by animals,
weather, or congestion;
- 85th percentile speed
-- The speed at which 85 percent of the vehicles are traveling;
- The pace of vehicles
-- The 10 mph range of speeds containing the greatest number
of observed speeds.
is an enforcement issue. As posted speed limits are appropriate
per state regulations, it is the responsibility of local law
enforcement agencies to enforce the speed limits and, of course,
motorists must be responsible for driving safely and observing
all laws and traffic control devices.
for an overview of the BCEO's Speed Limit Study Process.
Please follow this link to ODOT's web site for a good explanation
of speed zones and Ohio speed limits.
Why can't you install traffic signals at an intersection or turn
it into a four-way stop to make it safer?
A: Many times following an accident
we receive urgent requests to fix an intersection by installing
signals or turning it into a four-way stop. However, a reactionary
and emotional response following an accident would not necessarily
be wise. As engineers representing the public we can't react
and perform projects, large or small, based on emotional pleas
from citizens which understandably we see quite a lot. We have
to carefully listen to the public we serve while balancing a
response with what is legal, financially prudent, and ultimately,
with what provides a safe driving environment for motorists.
Like speed limits,
there are very strict rules which govern the utilization of traffic
control devices. We must perform an objective study that assesses
traffic volumes, accident history, and other factors. The BCEO
cannot randomly install signals, stop signs, or any other traffic
control device unless certain warrants, or criteria, are met.
To do so is illegal. These warrants are strictly dictated by
the state and justifiably so. There has to be a standard uniform
application of traffic control devices to prevent driver confusion.
While some intersections may seem problematic, we must evaluate
them in an objective manner using factual information and sound
engineering judgment. It would be fiscally irresponsible to spend
money on improvements that are not necessarily justified.
Sometimes a four-way
stop may seem like a logical solution, yet there are circumstances
in which this can actually create a more dangerous situation
than might already exist, resulting in more, not fewer, accidents.
To reiterate, we strive
hard to make Butler County's roads safe for the motoring public.
That is our job. However, we can engineer only up to the point
of human error. Driver responsibility is an important component
of safe motoring. Engineers can build the safest road or intersection
possible based on modern design standards, but one can never
completely eliminate the factors of driver error and inclement
weather. Installing more stop signs or adding signals does not
guarantee that motorists will always obey them. Excessive speed,
inattention, driving under the influence, blinding sun and snow
and rain can all contribute to accidents.
With that in mind,
it is important to understand that we do closely monitor all
roads, bridges, and intersections for which we have responsibility
per the Ohio Revised Code. Safety, congestion issues, and accident
data are reviewed with frequency to ensure that we stay on top
of any developing problem areas. Some areas are more accident-prone
than others and we hear demands to improve each of them. In many
cases improvements are already being planned, designed, or are
slated for construction.
It is not our intent
to diminish the urgency of citizen requests that come into our
Office. We'd like to fix every single problem right away, but
realistically we have to prioritize based on traffic and capacity
issues, accident history, and of course, available financing.
Why does it seem that more money is being spent on projects in
the eastern half of the County versus the western half?
A: There tend to be more large
scale projects in the eastern half because that is where the
needs are. This is due to the explosive growth taking place along
the I-75 corridor and the surrounding areas. This growth places
huge demands on the roadway system. Consequently, there are more
congestion and capacity related projects there; ie, projects
which add lanes or involve construction of new roads designed
to accommodate more vehicles. These types of projects require
more funding.The western half of the County is growing at a slower
rate and the traffic demands are not nearly the same. Most projects
there involve bridge and culvert replacements, intersection modifications,
and resurfacing. These tend to be less expensive overall.
A look at our Current
Projects page will show that the actual number of projects
is fairly evenly distributed. It varies from year to year and
in some years one township may have more than another, but it
balances out over time. Moreover, projects in some townships
like West Chester, Liberty, or Fairfield, may actually be funded
through their own TIFs or private developers. The County simply
manages the engineering and construction.
The BCEO's first priority
is safety -- safe roads, safe bridges. We are very aware of the
perception issues by the western half of the County regarding
the eastern half. We look at where the needs are and try to be
fair to everyone. But the fact is there are very few roads in
the western half that are over capacity (congested) in the same
way that many are in the eastern half. This does not mean the
western half is being ignored or slighted in any way. It just
means that the needs are different.
What is the difference between a public road and a private road?
A: A public road is one that
has been officially accepted by a governing agency -- city, township,
county, state -- for public use. It has been recorded in the
agency road records as a public road and is therefore maintained
by that agency. Maintenance includes snow removal, paving and
repairs, and any necessary upgrades.
Private roads have
NOT been accepted as public roadways and are therefore not recorded
in any agency's road records. Here in Butler County, some private
roadways are on file with the BCEO's Tax Map Department for reference
purposes only, but these roads are not maintained by any public
agency. Maintenance responsibility of a private road falls upon
the property owners who live on the road. If a neighborhood homeowner's
association exists, the association usually takes responsibility.
A developer has the
option to construct a road as public or private. A road typically
remains private if the developer chooses not to build it to public
standards. If a road does not meet these standards, it will not
be accepted as a public road.
In some cases a private
road is never filed with our Tax Map Department and therefore
it is impossible for us to have any documentation of its existence.
We encourage all developers of private roads to file documentation
with our Tax Map Department so that these roads can be placed
in the 911 emergency system and shown on our Official Transportation
What is the difference between a dedicated road and an accepted
A: When reference is made to
a dedicated road, technically speaking, that reference is to
a dedicated right-of-way -- land that has been reserved, or dedicated,
for construction of a roadway that will eventually be accepted
and maintained as a public road. Once this road is constructed,
it is not accepted as a public road by the local governing agency
until the developer has finished building the homes or businesses
around it. Until then, the developer is responsible for keeping
the roads free and clear of snow and debris.
Once all development
is complete, any necessary repairs to the road can be made by
the developer and then a final layer of asphalt is laid. At this
point, the developer must continue to maintain the road for one
year before it can be accepted as an official public road.
Our school levy failed and now they're cutting busing. The roads
within a mile of the schools are going to be a mess. What can
you do about it?
A: Concern about increased congestion
on local roads when a local school district reduces bus service
is understandable. Safety is a concern for all of us. It is what
drives most projects here at the Engineer's Office.
upgrades such as major roadway and intersection improvements,
sidewalks, traffic signals, or speed limit reductions, is not
feasible in a short period of time. Roadway projects are based
on long-range planning, which includes local growth and development,
traffic counts and traffic patterns, accident data, and funding
availability. When it comes to long-range planning and budgeting
limited funds for roadway projects, it is impossible to predict
and measure what a local school community may do in the short
and long term. School levies are fickle and their impact on a
local community can vary widely within relatively short time
periods. For example, if a local levy suddenly passes, the school
district may likely reinstate bus service, alleviating the traffic
issues in the vicinity of their schools.
Some things to keep
in mind with regards to traffic control:
- Some have suggested
reducing speed limits to 20 mph on all roads within a one mile
radius of schools on school days. This is not only impractical
but illegal. Speed limits cannot be lowered arbitrarily. Speed
zones must be warranted and adhere to the Ohio Revised Code.
Only roadways that front a school may be signed for school zone
speed limit. The Ohio Department of Transportation must also
approve all requests for warranted speed zones.
- We have been asked
to install additional traffic control devices, such as stop signs
and traffic signals. These however must be warranted. A traffic
signal is the most restrictive of all traffic control devices.
Even if a traffic signal is warranted, it still requires time
to design and money to construct. The minimum cost of a traffic
signal is between $75,000 and $100,000 to design and install.
Design of a traffic signal takes an average of three to four
months to design.
- Some have also suggested
that we immediately install new sidewalks along all roads near
a school when a school district threatens to reduce busing services.
Planning and construction of sidewalks is a major undertaking.
Land must be surveyed, sidewalks must be designed, existing drainage
features must be addressed, right-of-way must be acquired, existing
utilities must be relocated, and funding must be secured. The
cost of installing sidewalks runs approximately $5 per square
foot. This cost does not include the cost for right-of-way, utility
relocation, or modification to existing drainage features.
Since projects are
long-range undertakings, we cannot possibly plan around local
school levy failures and school board decisions. The BCEO is
responsible for roads and bridges in 13 townships that are served
by 15 different school districts here in Butler County. And as
noted, we are also restricted by traffic control measures set
forth by the State of Ohio. When school levies fail, your primary
issues really are with your local school district, not necessarily
with the County or local governing agency. However, it is always
our hope that a reasonable settlement is attained by the school
district and its citizens with regards to a school tax levy.
What do you do when private property is needed for roadway improvements?
Do you use eminent domain?
A: The issue of eminent domain
seems to be in the news a lot, mostly in a less than positive
light. But when it comes to roadway safety improvements eminent
domain can result in a win-win situation for everybody as
it is designed to protect private property owners while allowing
public projects to proceed for the public safety.
It is the County Engineer's
duty to build and maintain safe roads and bridges for the motoring
public. This involves planning ahead, engineering, designing,
and constructing improvements before the local roadway network
becomes structurally and functionally obsolete. Certain projects
such as roadway widenings may necessitate the acquisition of
right-of-way from private property owners.
While we design for
the least amount of impact to nearby properties, a roadway project's
integrity must not be jeopardized. We obviously do not design
a road or bridge project in haphazard fashion. All aspects of
a project are taken into account including the effects on local
properties. Everything possible is done to ensure the least amount
of impact while utilizing safe, modern design standards that
will result in a safe and efficient roadway for the general public.
Sometimes however a
property owner may not be receptive to a road or bridge project.
This usually involves one of two issues: 1) the property owner
does not agree with the project design and its impact on their
property, or 2) the property owner does not agree with the amount
of compensation that is being offered for acquisition of all
or part of their property.
We have a public responsibility
to improve traffic flow and roadway safety for the public at
large, but in doing so, local property owners may feel as if
they are being negatively impacted. It is a delicate and sometimes
difficult balancing act between doing what is required for public
safety versus the rights and wellbeing of the individual property
owner who lives along a proposed road improvement. Quite frankly,
we at the Engineer's Office sometimes find ourselves in a no-win
situation. If we don't construct a much needed road project we
are neglecting our public duty and become subject to public criticism.
Should we do the project and it becomes necessary to use eminent
domain we are characterized as the big, bad government.
The good news is that
we negotiate for hundreds of right-of-way parcels a year with
very few problems. We work in good faith with all property owners,
meeting with them as necessary to explain a project and its effects
on their property. We listen carefully to property owner concerns,
make suggestions, and even modify the design within reason. We
will not however risk public safety by compromising sound engineering
principles and safe design standards.
When acquiring rights-of-way
for a project, property is not "taken." A fair market
value is offered to the property owner as just compensation.
This estimate is determined through a formal assessment of the
property's worth, and in the case of federally funded projects
or appropriations an independent certified appraiser is utilized.
Any property owner however has the right to dispute the compensation
amount. This is when the concept of eminent domain is
exercised. Eminent domain protects the property owner's
rights to just compensation, which is the fair market value of
what the parcel is actually worth plus allowances for damages
to the residue if any. Eminent domain allows public projects
to proceed for the public safety but protects the individual
property owner for just compensation.
It is critical to understand
that we have a public responsibility to offer fair market value.
Anything more would call into question our responsible handling
of taxpayers' money. The accusation would be that we are giving
public money away. Our duty is to protect the taxpayers while
being fair to the property owner.
including this one have been unfairly characterized as unresponsive
or accused of doing the minimum to help a property owner. Nothing
could be further from the truth. In a handful of cases a property
owner may simply be unwilling to negotiate in a reasonable manner.
But our staff of professionals works very hard to create a win-win
situation for the property owner and the general public whom
we represent. We always keep in mind that we work for all citizens
of Butler County -- for the individual property owner and for
the public at large.
Does the Engineer's Office assign addresses and how is this done?
A: The BCEO's Tax Map Department
assigns addresses in the unincorporated areas of Butler County.
This would include all of those new subdivisions and commercial
side streets popping up almost daily in townships like Fairfield,
Liberty, and West Chester.
Some have asked why
often times the address numbers jump in increments greater than
two. One factor to consider is that traditional street blocks
are less common in the unincorporated parts of the county than
in the cities. New subdivision streets out in the townships tend
to curve and meander a lot. So that is why the 100, 102, 104
system does not necessarily work.
The assignment of addresses
is measured off of a Countywide grid. There are 600 numbers per
mile in the grid. Our Tax Map Department divides this out to
get a number for every nine feet. There are other factors that
also influence the assignment of addresses. Adjacent address
numbers may differ by a value of four or more to allow for possible
future zoning law changes. For example, additional addresses
need to be available if for some reason a lot would be split
and additional housing or business units inserted. These new
addresses would need to be in sequential order with the rest
of the addresses on the street. Another issue encountered with
increasing frequency is that cell phone companies purchase or
rent space on certain properties to install towers. These towers
are required to be associated with their own address, so allowances
need to be made for the assignment of a new address in these
There are several factors
considered when assigning addresses and it's not an exact science.
Every situation is a little different.
Does the Engineer's Office repair railroad crossings? Why does
it take so long to get a bad crossing fixed?
A: The railroads own all crossings
and are responsible for their maintenance and upkeep. When crossings
become bumpy and worn out, the BCEO works with the railroads
to expedite repairs but has no authority to actually perform
the repairs. If the railroad does not fix a bad crossing in a
timely manner, we do everything legally possible to get the railroad
to address the problem, but unfortunately state and federal law
provides local agencies with very little recourse against the
Whenever the BCEO receives
a complaint about a bad crossing we are usually already aware
of it and have spoken with the offending railroad. We do suggest
that citizens also contact the railroad themselves as well as
the PUCO - Railroad Division (Public Utilities
Commission of Ohio), which has regulatory authority over the
railroads. If the crossing involves a city or state-maintained
road, citizens should register their complaint with the city
District 8, who will then contact the appropriate railroad.
Does pre-treating the roads with salt brine before a winter storm
A: The application of salt brine
helps prevent the initial bonding of snow and frozen precipitation
to roadway surfaces. It provides melting in the same manner as
traditional salt granules, but sooner. This immediate melting
action reduces early accumulations and allows road crews to get
a jump on clearing the roads.
Studies have proven
that applying liquid brine before snow or ice has bonded to the
pavement can be ten times more effective than spreading granular
salt on top of snow and ice after the precipitation has already
bonded to the pavement. It takes one ton of salt to make 1,000
gallons of brine, resulting in less granular salt usage. Since
pre-treating with brine makes subsequent applications of granular
salt work more effectively, twice as much can be accomplished
with the same amount of salt. This results in a direct cost-savings
to the taxpayers.
The Butler County Engineer's
Office has been utilizing salt brine to pre-treat roads since
2003. Our primary goal is to keep roads safe and clear for the
motoring public. But if we can save our citizens money by doing
it more efficiently then hopefully that's a bonus.
If minor snows have caused more problems in recent years, perhaps
it is due to the fact that our area doesn't get nearly as much
snow as in years past, nor as often. Therefore we may be less
accustomed to driving in it. This might be a good time to remind
motorists to drive cautiously in all winter weather situations
and be especially careful and courteous when driving near salt
trucks and snow plows.
How do you inform the public of upcoming road closures?
A: The BCEO puts a high priority
on getting project and road closing information out to the public.
Whenever we plan to close a road a news release is faxed to all
local media. Of course, there is no guarantee that they will
publish or air the information that we provide. That's why this
web site is your best source. All County road closings, openings,
and traffic advisories are posted on our Road
Closings page along with locator maps. We also occasionally
list road closings in other jurisdictions -- ie, cities such
as Hamilton, Fairfield, etc., as well as closings by the Ohio
Department of Transportation -- if the information is provided
to us. Motorists may also find additional project info on our
Current Projects page.
We also post advance
notification signs at the site of all upcoming closures. These
signs indicate the road closing date and length, and direct motorists
to our web site for full details. Click here
to see what one of these signs looks like.
of all road closing news releases are faxed to the locally affected
school district so that plans can be made for bus routes, local
post offices, police and fire departments, the Butler County
Sheriff's Office, and the local governing township, as well as
any nearby jurisdictions that may be impacted by the closure.
If a closure is going
to be lengthy, we also deliver notification letters to local
residents and businesses that are located within close proximity
to the project area. These notification letters, which explain
the closure and project in full detail, are also posted on our
Road Closings page.
How are roadway detours determined? Why doesn't the Engineer's
Office detour traffic onto smaller roads?
A: Much thought and planning
goes into every road closure and any necessary detours. We must
consider the impact on all local and surrounding roads since
most County roads are major arteries. Local roads usually will
not suffice as adequate detour routes for County arterials which
typically carry much higher traffic volumes. Any time we close
a County road we are obligated to detour traffic onto County
or State roads of equal or greater capacity. We cannot detour
traffic down to smaller township roads and streets that are not
designed to handle large amounts of traffic.
Routing high volumes
of County road traffic onto smaller subdivision streets, through
shopping or entertainment districts, or onto less adequate township
roads is not practical, could result in traffic jams, and would
create an unsafe situation for motorists and pedestrians. While
the Engineer's Office understands that some local motorists find
their own ways around detoured project areas, our official detours
must follow higher capacity County and State roads.
Instead of sending motorists on long detours why don't you build
a temporary bridge or road around the project?
A: Many roadway improvement projects
can be built while maintaining thru traffic. But in some cases
this is not possible and we've no choice but to close the road.
In such cases, all possibilities are considered as we consult
with local governments, schools, and businesses about the impact
of a road closure. As nice as it would be to build a temporary
bridge around a bridge replacement project for example, this
is an extremely costly undertaking. The price would be nearly
as much as the main bridge project itself. It would therefore
double the cost of the overall project.
We don't believe that
is a wise use of the taxpayers' money, nor do we even have that
kind of revenue to play with. Our road and bridge construction
budget is extremely tight and there are many other critical projects
that must be constructed for safety and traffic capacity reasons.
It would be irresponsible for us to spend potentially a half
million dollars on a temporary bridge when we could use that
money to replace an aging, unsafe bridge somewhere else. We understand
decisions like this may not be very popular with some motorists
who are temporarily inconvenienced. But we must balance our decisions
based on what's best for the public at large and the most efficient
use of everyone's tax dollars.
There is so much road construction I can't get from here to there.
Why does it seem like everything is closed simultaneously?
A: This is a common complaint
during road construction season. Commuting times increase and
so does congestion because roads are closed and detours are in
place. Southeast Butler County bears the brunt of this because
it is growing so rapidly and there are many projects that need
to be done for safety reasons and to facilitate better traffic
flow in the long run. Problem is, in the short run the associated
construction boggles things up.
Here in Ohio we don't
have the luxury of a long construction season like in the south.
Weather issues limit the period of time and type of construction
that can be performed. Another factor is that funding is a significant
hurdle which must be addressed for every needed project. Many
times there are state or federal grants involved for certain
road and bridge projects and we must take advantage of those
grants when they become available or risk losing that money.
Moreover, there are many different agencies responsible for various
projects --- the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), the
Butler County Transportation Improvement District (TID), the
townships, the cities, as well as the Butler County Engineer's
Office (BCEO). As much as all jurisdictional agencies try to
coordinate road and bridge projects, there is not an ideal solution
because we are all dealing with the same funding, weather, and
urgent safety issues outlined above.
is done to alleviate the impacts of road construction on motorists.
Engineers do in fact take into account the size of a project,
impact on the local roadways, and proximity to other projects
when scheduling for construction. But again, urgent safety factors,
weather, and funding availability all come into play.
Upgrading the infrastructure
is a way of life in a growing county like Butler. Improving your
commute for the long run can mean some short term frustration.
Motorists are encouraged to exercise patience and good judgment
Why couldn't you wait until school is out to start this project
and close the road? It is causing havoc for the school buses
and parents trying to get their children to school.
A: This is another common complaint
during road construction season. There are many projects that
we do in fact hold off until the three summer months when most
local schools are not in session. But with so many projects on
our schedule it would be impossible to squeeze them all into
a three month summer period. Doing so would actually result in
more simultaneous closures, congestion, detours, and delays if
all projects were to be constructed at the same time. We do try
to be sensitive to local schools very nearby proposed projects
and in many cases deliberately plan construction for the summer
months. But again, it is not possible to do so in every case.
We also have to work in conjunction with the contractor's availability
as they have many projects with other public agencies around
which they must schedule. Moreover, many projects require significantly
longer than three months to complete.
Another factor to consider
in Ohio is that we don't have the luxury of a long construction
season as they do in southern states. Our time frame to squeeze
in projects is much tighter and we are also working around spring
rains and wet weather. Many projects require totally dry conditions
Prior to closing any
road, we notify and coordinate detours and alternate bus routes
with all affected school systems. In the event of large scale
projects requiring prolonged closures, we typically meet with
school officials to plan well in advance of the closure. Coordinating
with our local schools ahead of time affords them the opportunity
to work with their transportation directors, bus drivers, and
parents to arrange any necessary changes to bus routes and scheduling.
What can be done about the narrow railroad underpasses through
which many County and township roads must squeeze?
A: The Butler County Engineer's
Office and the townships are currently working with the railroads
to study possible solutions. There are several factors which
come into play, the most notable being money. The cost for rebuilding
just one railroad overpass is estimated at over $10 million.
We are exploring some unconventional methods of doing these projects
that would bring the cost per overpass down into the $5-6 million
range, but that is still a lot of money for one overpass. To
fund all of them that truly need to be replaced is not something
the railroad can afford, nor can the County or the townships.
It is an extremely difficult problem for which there is no easy
Other issues that make
this difficult include the logistics of re-routing commercial
rail traffic versus building expensive temporary overpasses,
the potential loss to the railroads if commercial rail traffic
must be diverted, and quite frankly the resolve of the railroads
to address the overpass issues period.
As one can see, there
is not an easy fix that will happen anytime soon. But we have
been spearheading a move to get the railroads thinking about
it and are doing everything possible to find a workable solution.
Won't a flashing yellow light draw more attention to a sign?
A: A flashing beacon is a blinking
light that is often used to draw attention to particular intersections
and other situations where drivers need to be warned of unexpected
or hazardous conditions. It is a common belief, but not always
true, that the addition of a flashing yellow light will reduce
the speed of vehicles using the roadway. In addition, flashing
lights may initially draw attention to a particular situation
but lose some of their attention value over time.
For a complete explanation,
Can you explain the address numbering system and layout?
A: The BCEO's Tax Map Department
oversees this process and assigns new address numbers in all
unincorporated parts of the county. To better understand the
addressing system, it helps to reference one of our road maps.
Opening to one of the pages that shows an individual township
you can see small red numbers along each of the section lines.
These numbers represent the grid on which our address system
is based. There are 600 numbers per mile, depending on whether
a road is considerd to be a north-south or an east-west road.
Even numbers are on the north or east side of the road, odd numbers
to the south and west sides. Of course, no system is fool proof.
A road running north can suddenly turn to the east. In such cases
we continue along that road with the numbers with which we started,
thus keeping the addresses in sequence even though this departs
from the grid and can also create odd numbers on the north side
of that road.
Management Practices (BMP) -
A schedules of activities, prohibitions of practices, general
good housekeeping practices, pollution prevention and educational
practices, maintenance procedures, and other management practices
to prevent or reduce the discharge of pollutants directly or
indirectly to storm water, receiving waters, or storm water conveyance
systems. BMPs also include treatment practices, operating procedures,
and practices to control site runoff, spillage.
Bridge - A structure with a clear
span of ten feet or greater which carries a roadway surface over
a gap or obstacle such as a stream, railroad, or another roadway.
Bridges can be made of many different types of material, including
concrete, steel, cables, composite materials, and any combination
of these. Bridge replacements are determined by the age and condition
of the structure and are often planned in conjunction with future
- Repair or replacement of certain components of a bridge. Many
parts of the bridge may be in good condition so only certain
parts are "rehabilitated" in an effort to extend the
life of the structure. Bridge rehabilitation can range from simple
re-painting to repair or replacement of the deck, beams, wing
walls, abutments, and/or other components.
All components of a bridge structure are replaced. This is usually
done when a bridge begins to deteriorate due to natural aging
and weathering, rust, crumbling, and other environmental factors.
But sometimes a bridge needs to be replaced due to capacity issues.
It is still in relatively good condition but is not wide enough
or strong enough to carry today's heavier loads and increased
Because road salt becomes substantially less effective below
20 degrees F, calcium chloride is used to improve its effectiveness
at melting snow in colder temperatures. The liquid calcium is
sprayed onto the salt granules before they reach the spinner
on the back of the truck. For more details, please visit the
Snow and Ice Control page.
An inlet or opening designed to collect rainwater, surface water,
sump pump water, swale, and ditch runoff that serves as an entry
point to a storm sewer pipe. Referred to also as a drain, storm
drain, storm water drain, curb drain, street drain, or inlet.
A pavement resurfacing treatment in which a thin film of heated
asphalt liquid is sprayed on the road surface followed by the
placement of small stone aggregates ("chips"). The
chips are then compacted to orient the chips for maximum adherence
to the asphalt, and excess stone is then swept from the surface.
The chip seal method of road resurfacing is about one fifth the
cost of a conventional asphalt overlay.
Culvert - A conduit running underneath
a road for the purpose of transferring storm water runoff from
one side of the road to another. Culverts are technically classified
as structures with a clear span of less than ten feet and can
be made of different types of material -- there are simple pipe
culverts and concrete box culverts. Culvert replacements are
like bridges, determined by the age and condition of the structure
and are often planned in conjunction with future resurfacing
Curb - A raised barrier vertical
or sloped that is adjacent to either a gutter or street edge.
Streets are typically lined with a system referred to as curb
and gutter while parking lots utilize curb.
This storm water feature has no permanent pool of water and is
known as a dry basin. Similar to a wet pond, this practice provides
flood control. The basin fills with water during heavy rains
while the outlet structure limits the amount of water leaving
the basin. A detention basin qualifies as a BMP (see above).
The process by which a landowner or developer may petition the
Board of County Commissioners to perform a drainage improvement
and assess the cost of the improvement on their property tax.
Annual maintenance of the drainage improvement is performed by
the County Engineer's Office. Maintenance costs are then recovered
through the Ditch Maintenance Fund, as established under the
Ditch Petition process.
- A portion
of land that has been reserved for a specific purpose. Easements
grant entities or property owners the right to construct and
maintain facilities within designated areas. There are several
different easements; the most common are Utility, Private Drainage,
and Public Drainage. Easement records can be found on the subdivision
record plat, official record, deed, or agreement in the County
- Low lying
area adjacent to a creek, stream, or river that experiences occasional
or periodic flooding. The Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) classify
floodplains into varying levels of flood risk for insurance purposes.
Floodplains usually define the limits of a 100-year flood.
of a stream plus any adjacent floodplain areas that must be kept
free of encroachment so that the 100-year flood discharge can
be conveyed without increasing the elevation of flood waters.
Surface swale or ditch used to direct flood waters between houses
towards the street, detention basin, or retention pond. A flood
route is utilized when the storm drain system becomes overwhelmed
during a storm producing heavy runoff.
Funding - Refers to revenue sources.
Local funding for the Butler County Engineer's Office comes primarily
from gasoline taxes and license plate fees. But these monies
are also used as local match money to leverage state and federal
grants for our road and bridge projects. Please see Where
the Money Comes From and Funding Sources
here on our web site for more specific details about funding
of a street, below the curb, that is designed to drain rainwater
runoff from streets, driveways, and parking lots toward a catch
structure that cradles the end of a storm sewer pipe or culvert.
A headwall can be referred to as an outlet or outfall.
Owner's Association (HOA) -
An organization created by a developer of a subdivision with
Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) for the purpose
of managing their neighborhood. The CC&R may address open
space, neighborhood parks, walking paths, retention ponds, detention
basins, storm drain system, and other amenities established by
the developer that are subject to the statutes of the association.
Some associations also regulate the use certain building materials,
colors, and residential building design in their CC&Rs.
Surfaces that do not allow for rainwater to penetrate or be absorbed
into the ground, such as a rooftop, driveway, parking lot, sidewalk,
or gravel surface.
Upgrade of an existing intersection. This can range from simply
widening the turning radii and improving sight distance to adding
turn lanes and traffic signals for smoother, safer traffic flow
in cases of increased traffic volumes.
Flow Gutter -
Shallow open channel
lined with concrete that is used in areas with constant or intermittent
flows within a detention basin, swale, or ditch.
Refers to which jurisdiction or agency is responsible for maintaining
a road or street; ie, plowing, salting, paving, fixing potholes,
widening and improving, etc. There are four levels of roadway
State - Federal and state designated roads maintained
by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).
County - County designated roads maintained by the Butler
County Engineer's Office (BCEO).
Township - Township designated roads maintained by individual
Municipality - Streets and roads within incorporated areas
maintained by the cities and villages.
See Question 1 on this page for more details.
- A structure
used in the change of direction and grade of storm sewer pipes.
Year Flood -
Flood event having a one percent chance of being equaled or exceeded
in any given year.
A tank which is used to collect and store rainwater runoff from
rooftops and house gutters. Property owners can then harvest
the stored runoff and water plants during dry periods. This qualifies
as a BMP (see above).
A planted depression that allows runoff from impervious areas
or rooftops to be absorbed into the ground. Rain gardens provide
infiltration, redistribution of moisture, transpiration, and
bioretention. This qualifies as a BMP (see above).
Pavement Markers (RPMs) -
These are safety devices spaced along the centerline or edgelines
on roads to help drivers see lane markings. They are reflective
strips, which come in a variety of colors, with a protective
metal casting placed in shallow grooves cut in the pavement.
The device's reflective surface enables it to be clearly visible
at long distances at night and in rainy weather when pavement
markings are hard to see.
to the improvement of a deteriorated and aging roadway surface.
On this web site, the term generally refers to traditional paving,
the overlay of new asphalt or "blacktop" on an aging
roadway surface. Chip Seal is another less expensive method of
resurfacing. See Chip Seal above.
Sometimes called a wet pond due to its permanent pool, this artificial
pond temporarily stores runoff during heavy rains. An outlet
structure limits the amount of water leaving the pond, providing
flood control. This qualifies as a BMP (see above).
- Any strip
or area of land, including surface, overhead, or underground,
granted by deed or easement for construction and maintenance
according to designated use; ie, roadway, drainage, etc. The
public right-of-way on which a public road lies is usually wider
than the actual roadway surface and may extend ten or more feet
beyond the edge of the road.
Upgrade of an existing roadway. This can range from widening
existing lanes and berms to building additional new lanes and
- A circular
intersection with design features that promote safe and efficient
traffic flow. At roundabouts, vehicles travel counterclockwise
around a raised center island, with entering traffic yielding
the right-of-way to circulating traffic. Drivers approaching
a roundabout must reduce their speeds, look for potential conflicts
with vehicles already in the circle, and be prepared to stop
for pedestrians and bicyclists. Once in the roundabout, drivers
proceed to the appropriate exit, following the guidance provided
by traffic signs and pavement markings. Because roundabouts improve
the efficiency of traffic flow, they also reduce vehicle emissions
and fuel consumption.
(Sodium Chloride) -
Road salt, applied by truck-borne spreaders to melt snow on roadway
surfaces. It reacts with water and wet snow and lowers the freezing
point of the resulting liquid. It melts snow and keeps it from
"sticking" on roadways, at least while temperatures
are moderately cold (around 15 degrees F or warmer). For more details, please visit
the Snow and Ice Control page.
A salt and water mix that is applied to roadway surfaces before
snow begins to fall. Often seen as a series of fuzzy white lines
on the road, this liquid brine solution helps prevent the bonding
of snow and ice to pavements. Pre-treating Butler County's roads
with brine before a snow storm helps melt the snow and ice as
it hits the roadway surface which reduces immediate accumulations
and allows crews to get a jump on the snow. For more details, please visit
the Snow and Ice Control page.
Drain System -
Publicly or privately owned or operated facilities and infrastructures
by which storm water is collected and/or conveyed, including
but not limited to any roads with drainage systems, municipal
streets, gutters, curbs, inlets, piped storm drains, pumping
facilities, retention and detention basins, natural and human-made
or altered drainage channels, reservoirs, and other drainage
Any surface flow, runoff, and drainage consisting entirely of
water from any form of natural precipitation and resulting from
such precipitation. A flow of water created by snow melt or rainwater
that is conveyed by a storm drain system to a water body.
Collection Line -
Located underground and adjacent to the street curb and gutter
system, this plastic pipe can be 4 to 6 inches in diameter. It
is used to collect water from neighborhood sump pumps and discharges
to a nearby catch basin or manhole.
A mechanical pump used to remove water that has accumulated in
a sump pit, commonly found in the basement of homes. Water, from
rain or natural groundwater, enters the pit from perimeter drains
(or footer drains) around the basement walls and is pumped to
an outside location or sump collection line.
A type of intersection in which minor cross street traffic is
prohibited from going straight through or left at a divided highway
intersection. Minor cross street traffic must turn right but
can then access a signalized U-turn to proceed in the desired
direction. This requires three lighted intersections, but each
light has only two phases, greatly increasing average traffic
flow. This innovative intersection has only been used in a few
locations around the United States with three new intersections
locally to be constructed along Bypass 4.
- A depression
between slopes that carries drainage. Most homes are constructed
with a swale at the property line between neighbors. Some homes
also have a rear swale which directs the water around the house
from the rear to the side yard. Swales tend to be relatively
shallow with gentle side slopes. Swales can be almost unnoticeable
as a landscape feature, but are vital for carrying storm water
away from or around the home. This qualifies as a BMP (see above).
Signal Coordination -
Refers to when the timing of multiple traffic signals is synchronized
on major roads to keep traffic flowing, which reduces both congestion
and air pollution. This timing can automatically be adjusted
depending on the traffic flow for the A.M. and P.M. hours. For
more traffic information, please visit the Traffic
Signal Preemption -
A type of system that allows the normal operation of traffic
lights to be preempted, often to assist emergency vehicles. The
most common use of these systems is to manipulate traffic signals
in the path of an emergency vehicle, stopping conflicting traffic
and allowing the emergency vehicle right-of-way to help reduce
response times and enhance traffic safety. For more traffic information,
please visit the Traffic
Improvement District (TID) -
Fostering intergovernmental and public-private collaboration,
the Transportation Improvement District (TID) provides a local
structure which coordinates federal, state, and local resources
in planning, financing, constructing, and operating transportation
projects. As leaders across the country call for greater innovation
and accelerated construction schedules, the TID is proving the
possibilities for better government. The TID drives the responsibility
for transportation improvements to the local level and serves
a group of local governments collaborating to achieve common
transportation goals. As the name implies, a TID is a "district,"
a geographic area organized for the purpose of improving the
existing road system. The TID does not represent a single city,
nor is it a large government agency. In fostering cooperation
among local governments, the TID increases the impact and effectiveness
of local transportation planning and funding. The cooperative
structure of the TID allows Butler County communities to accomplish
more together than they would if they acted alone. Link to Butler County TID
Watershed - Geographic area of land
from which all runoff drains into a single waterway or the total
land area from which rain water drains into a particular stream,
drain, or body of water.
Natural or manmade feature such as a creek, stream, river, detention
basin, retention pond, lake, pond, or reservoir.