Penny Taxed is a Roadway Earned
Provided by Marion County
Marion County’s Office of the County Engineer maintains more than 2,500 miles of paved road, 21,000 drainage structures and an astonishing 88,395 traffic signs.
The department is also responsible for 161 watersheds and several hundred miles of unpaved roadway.
Such a feat takes dedication, patience and attention to detail; three traits County Engineer Tracy Straub PE looks for when she hires new employees.
“It’s a big team effort,” said Straub. “We are responsible for safe and efficient travel along the county road network, which includes assets like signs and signals, pavement markings and the stormwater system.”
“There’s a lot of care and concern with everything we do in this department,” said Straub. “Our employees want to provide a service to their neighbors and enjoy helping the community.”
Although her team works well within set guidelines, they are encouraged to think outside of the box to solve unique problems, which include everything from tweaking traffic light times, to addressing drainage concerns.
Sometimes, things don’t go as planned and crews have to respond to emergency repair sites quickly to assess and address damage.
Repairing damaged roads can be extremely difficult, especially after unexpected inclement weather. Just recently, OCE responded to several roads that were knocked out of commission after the area was pummeled by sudden flooding.
Marion County actually received over 11 inches of rainfall in 2018.
“It’s challenging,” said Jared Peltz, OCE roads engineer. “Because we want to get roads up and running quickly, but sometimes we have to wait for the water to recede so that we can begin working. Fortunately, we have a diligent team on standby to recover lost roadways as soon as possible.”
Peltz explained that staff put up signs and barricades when they encounter damaged or flooded roads to keep the public safe. He encourages residents to contact OCE as soon as they encounter a hazardous roadway.
“Marion County is enormous,” said Peltz. “So it really makes a difference when residents reach out about road damage. They act as extra eyes and we appreciate their cooperation.”
Keeping assets up to date through refurbishment efforts is another primary objective for OCE. Refurbished roads are funded by a local gas tax, special assessment and the Penny sales tax.
In fact, miles of roadway updates have been funded by the Penny sales tax approved by Marion County voters on March 15, 2016. The Penny sales tax has since brought in more than $70 million.
The county roadway system is undergoing a much needed facelift and has already had Penny funds allocated to 18 OCE projects, with many more pending. These important projects have started throughout the county, from Northwest Highway 320, all the way to County Road 42. OM
To learn more about Marion County’s Penny sales tax, visit marionsalestax.org. If you have concerns about street signs, signal, pothole, drainage issue, or tree trimming in the county right-of-way, please contact us at 352-671-8686 or Roads@MarionCountyFL.org.
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