Change may yield different results

Insanity, the saying goes, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

That often is attributed to Albert Einstein, though that seems doubtful. Regardless, this describes the approach to improving roadways connecting Seneca County to the outside world. Wishful thinking, appeals to transportation authorities and lobbying of politicians have yielded little change.

Seneca County Commissioner Fred Zoeller wants to try something different. In a quest to improve SR 53, he wants to pony up some local cash. Zoeller eyes a $5-per-vehicle fee as a way to raise money to attract state funding for safer, more efficient roads serving our area. Specifically, he envisions SR 53 between US 23 and the Ohio Turnpike, and SR 12 between Fostoria and SR 53, becoming super-two lane highways.

He and County Engineer Mark Zimmerman noted three main criteria used by Ohio Department of Transportation when evaluating road projects are population, traffic and funding.

The first two present a logical dilemma. Declining population and, thus, less traffic make it tough to warrant state investment in our highways. But with better roadways, the county likely would have more jobs, more residents and more traffic.

So, put focus on that final criterion: money.

“If we have a little money in our pocket, we have a better chance to get something done,” Zoeller said Tuesday.

“They like you to have a little skin in the game,” Zimmerman said. “In fact, they require you to have some skin in the game.”

The potential benefits include safer highways, economic development and population growth.

“If you want to improve our ability to put people to work,” said Thomas Hay, an executive vice president with National Machinery LLC, “we’ve got to do this.”

Raise the money, and they may build it. Build it, and they will come. There’s no guarantee ODOT will cooperate. But the alternative is to do nothing and expect change. That’s not logical.