Paving the Way for Smoother Parking at Trumbull Fairgrounds

CORTLAND, Ohio – In the past, a heavy rain at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds meant dozens of cars getting stuck in the mud.

But that scenario won’t be repeated this year, thanks to an innovative and inexpensive paving program.

Using recycled asphalt grindings that were milled off area highways, the county has laid down paved roads throughout the fairgrounds’ massive grassy parking lot. Several other parking lots and drives at the fairgrounds have also been paved.

The newly completed work comes right on time. The fair opens Tuesday, July 11, and runs through July 16.

State Sen. Sandra O’Brien of Ashtabula, R-32nd, launched the program. She enlisted the help of Trumbull County Engineer Randy Smith, whose department carried out the work.

O’Brien, Smith and fair board member Bud Rodgers were at the fairgrounds Thursday to show off the improvements.

The grindings reuse program started a year ago after township officials approached O’Brien. They wanted to use the recycled product to repave or tar and chip their own roads.

The township trustees figured they had already paid for tons of asphalt that had been turned into grindings [from road repaving projects], O’Brien said. They didn’t want to pay twice.

“So we started a pilot program,” O’Brien said. “We saved a lot of money.” The program is only for Trumbull, Geauga and Ashtabula counties, which O’Brien represents.

Typically, the grindings are retained by the paving contractor and then sold on the open market, according to Smith. O’Brien said she is “so proud” of him for carrying out the grindings program to such a great extent.

“After I started this grindings program, [Smith] ran with it,” O’Brien said. “Not only has he used the grindings for township and county roads, but he was able to do these major improvements at our fairgrounds.”

Smith coordinated the grindings recovery effort with the state transportation department. The material, he said, was milled from a dozen road repaving projects throughout the county, and it came at no cost.

“Seven to 10 years ago, this material would have cost us $5 a ton,” Smith said. “Now it is in excess of $20 a ton.”

A roller smooths the newly paved roads in the Trumbull County Fairgrounds’ grassy parking area.

More than 5,000 tons of asphalt grindings was used in the fairgrounds work. The only cost to the county was for labor and trucking.

“If there is rain, it will certainly make [the parking lot] more accessible and conditions much more favorable,” Smith said.

Smith’s department also used the grindings to help the county’s townships with their own tar and chip paving projects.

Each year, the Trumbull County Fair gets a total of roughly 55,000 visitors over its six days, according to fair director Rodgers. When the  parking lot gets muddy, a lot of those visitors are forced to stay longer than they’d like.

“I remember pulling cars out of the mud until 1 or 2 in the morning,” Rodgers said.

The new roadways will last five to eight years, “but we’ll keep grooming them, so they’ll last longer,” he said.

The fairgrounds parking area once had gravel roads, but the gravel sank into the ground over the years and became overgrown, Rodgers said.

Pictured at top: Bud Rodgers, Trumbull County Fair director; Randy Smith, Trumbull County engineer; and state Sen. Sandra O’Brien at the fairgrounds.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.