Archived Story

Commission wants answers about Chesy Bypass

Published 9:58am Friday, September 30, 2011

It’s less than six miles in length but to make the Chesapeake Bypass a reality it will cost close to $200 million.

But right now there is only $10 million committed to it and no definitive timetable for when the project gets off the drawing board.

That lack of concrete plans has inspired the Lawrence County Commissioners to ask why. Those questions have been addressed to those in charge or to those who could be potential partners of what has been recently touted as an outer belt highway system for the Tri-State.

“We typically deal with neighbors-to-neighbors’ road problems, but this is a large infrastructure that is critical to the economic importance of Lawrence County,” Commissioner Bill Pratt said at the commission’s Thursday meeting. “We have several questions, we would like to have answered.”

The commissioners approved sending letters to Michele Craig, executive director of the KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission; and Jerry Wray, director of the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Among the questions in the commissioners’ letter to Craig concern the status of the final design work; the date for the filing of the center line plans so the county can implement building restrictions within that area; acquisition start date; and updated ODOT timeline.

The commissioners, along with Jason Stephens, chairman of KYOVA, and Bob Smith, director of the Chamber of Commerce, also sent a letter to Wray with specific requests as far as the bypass project.

Among those requests are:

That the final design be completed and the center alignment be filed locally and as expediently as possible so the county can take steps to protect the corridor from future development;

That sufficient funds be allocated for acquisition to provide a source of funds to accept voluntary purchases of properties from individuals currently in limbo with their real estate.

Currently ODOT is working on the final design of the 5.2-mile project, according to Kathleen Fuller, ODOT spokesperson.

“We have been tweaking it and making some modifications, how best to build it,” she said.

ODOT’s goal is to avoid the slips and slides that delayed the first phase of the bypass around Proctorville.

“Cutting into those hills, we didn’t want to face that again,” she said. “We may do some acquisition of real estate next year. That is a strong ‘may.’ We don’t have a timetable. It would not be immediate, not early.”

Out of the $10 million currently committed to the project, an estimated $4.5 million will go for the design work; the remainder of that will pay partially for the real estate acquisition. Total cost for acquisition is estimated at $22 million. Construction costs are expected to come in at $156 million.

“About $10 million is committed to the project with the TRAC (Transportation Review Advisory Council) and that is important that they commit money to a project,” Fuller said. “It remains on the TRAC list. It is an active project and we are working on it. But it is not funded. We don’t have a schedule for real estate. … We could get very fortunate and somehow get this project funded. We are not stopping or stalling. We keep working on it.”

  • Poor Richard

    Maybe someone should check the commissioner’s pulse. $200 million? Are you kidding me? For a 6 mile road to nowhere? Years ago, if the IT would do the research (FOIA ODOT), WV decided they needed the Ohio Bypass because, at the time, Huntington had alot of industry and transportation routes were needed to accommodate that industry. Then WV decided Ohio residents needed a route right up to the front door of their retail mall. Somewhere along the way, Ohio decided the bypass was Ohio’s big idea, specifically, LC officials and developers that purchased and own land along the new roadway. I mean, the real goal here is to build yet another bridge across the Ohio River, which will increase the number of bridges in Lawrence County to seven. Let me say that again – SEVEN BRIDGES FOR A COUNTY OF LESS THAN 60,000 people so all Ohioans can take their business to WV. For those that attended past public meetings prior to the first phase being built they would have realized that less than 0.000001% of the entire county population attended – kind of makes you wonder what was really going on. The squeaky wheels were the developers and county officials that own property in that area along with homeowners looking for buy out dollars — it was not attended by people that thought the road would serve some greater good to the county. As always, the self-serving agendas prevail at the cost of millions and millions more to come. The Proctorville ByPass should be known as the ROAD TO NOWHERE or the BOONDOGGLE OF SOUTHERN OHIO or maybe THE MONEY PIT would serve as a more appropriate title. The IT could also serve to bring out more information by looking into the engineering design behind the new bypass and noting the slope was NOT an approved slope but as always ODOT does whatever it wants, including leaving hazardous waste under the road bed of the bypass. Ever wonder why the erosion is so bad?

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