Melinda Krick/Paulding County Progrerss The new $8.2 million Paulding County ODOT garage held a dedication on Tuesday morning signaling the official opening of the facility. The speakers at the dedication included, from left, ODOT director Jerry Wray, Paulding County manager Ross Laukhuf and ODOT deputy director out of Lima, Kirk Slusher.
PAULDING — The new Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) maintenance garage in Paulding held its dedication Tuesday morning, signaling the official opening of the facility.

The new $8.2 million facility, which was built under the estimated $8.5 million, is located on the same site as the former facility, 833 W. Wayne St., which was constructed in 1978. The storage buildings on the grounds were built in 1948 and 1966.

The construction schedule for the new maintenance garage started in April 2016 and finished up in the spring of 2017, which is when the facility became fully operational. The new salt dome was finished in September of 2016.

The new site is 21,600 square feet, which is approximately two times larger than the original building.

While the new site was being finished, the temporary Paulding ODOT garage was located on West Wall Street.

“The employees in Paulding County have suffered in a temporary facility only to be able to operate out of this beautiful facility,” said District 1 deputy director Kirk Slusher. “We hope they will be here for the long term,” he added.

Some of the new additions to the facility includes additional truck storage, ungraded above-ground fuel system, a decanting station for disposal of catch basin waste, an expanded mechanic’s area, two truck wash bays, a pole barn, and a equipment storage building.

The salt dome can hold 4,000 tons, which is 25 percent more than the previous salt storage. The brine system machine can make 8,000 gallons per hour. In the old facility, it took eight hours to make 8,000 gallons.

“After touring the different facilities, our main issue was salt storage and brine making and so on for our weather work,” said Paulding County manager Ross Laukhuf.

“The future we are going into with snow and ice, this is going to be a great asset,” he added.

Alongside the essentials of the facility, restrooms, locker rooms and a larger break room were also built to accommodate the needs of the employees.

“We actually have room for our people and space for them to be able to relax at the end of the day or come in and use the restroom and have their own lockers,” Laukhuf said.

The office, break room and mechanics’ area increased in size from 2,600 square feet to 4,000 square feet.

Also in attendance at the dedication was ODOT director Jerry Wray. Director Wray started the ceremony talking about how Ohio’s transportation system is the state’s most valuable man-made resource.

“People of Ohio have made an enormous investment in our transportation system and it is our responsibility for the Ohio Department of Transportation to protect that investment,” Wray said.

The Paulding location is one of 42 locations that have been replaced in the state in the last six years.

“This is an investment not only for the future, it is an investment of the people of ODOT and an investment in this community,” Wray said.

Paulding County is in the ODOT District 1, which includes the counties of Defiance, Van Wert, Putnam, Hancock, Hardin, Allen, and Wyandot.

“Some of the facilities we have here, you will not see in other facilities across the state,” Slusher said.

The Village of Hicksville also received a new ODOT facility, an outpost, rather than a maintenance garage.

The Hicksville facility, next to Hicksville schools, will primarily serve the winter operations for both the ODOT Defiance and Paulding county maintenance crews.

ODOT and the state’s auditor’s office conducted a study six and a half years ago, that showed just how important the fleet was, especially the trucks, and that is when each facility was put on a cycle for when they would receive new equipment.

Paulding County is on a 12-year cycle.

“It is very hard to run a fleet that has to be maintained all the time and is unreliable,” Slusher said.

Director Wray talked about how under Gov. Kasich, the state has invested $14 billion in Ohio’s transportation system, but he said by the time Kasich’s term is up, the state will spend over $16 billion.

“Ninety-four percent of that investment is taking care of what we have, maintenance, replacement, and repair of our equipment,” Wray said.

The project designers for the Paulding facility was Garmann/Miller Architects Engineers out of Minster, Ohio and the general contractors were from Mosser Constriction Inc. out of Fremont, Ohio.

“This structure is a gem,” Slusher said.