U.S. House OKs #036;3.75 million for bypass

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 18, 2000

Federal legislators served up one more piece of the funding pie Tuesday for Lawrence County’s Chesapeake Bypass project.

Thursday, May 18, 2000

Federal legislators served up one more piece of the funding pie Tuesday for Lawrence County’s Chesapeake Bypass project.

Email newsletter signup

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved a $3.75 million move that had its beginnings in a 1998 southern Ohio highway agreement, U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland said.

"For several years, I have fought for enough funding to complete this project," Strickland said. "Now, finally, we are on the verge of construction."

Local and state transportation leaders said they had expected the funding.

"It’s a fulfillment of a past commitment," said Bob Dalton, Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce transportation committee chair.

The $3.75 million is similar to a matching amount earmarked earlier by the federal government for the bypass, Dalton said.

The latest earmark came about when Strickland negotiated the 1998 agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation, southern Ohio county commissioners and the Appalachian Regional Commission, ODOT spokesperson Holly Snedecor-Gray said.

The ARC redesignated Route 35 between Chillicothe and Richmond Dale as part of the Appalachian highway system, which made it eligible for ARC funding, Mrs. Snedecor-Gray said.

That move allowed state funding and other federal dollars to be shifted, some of which – including Tuesday’s allocation – landed in the Chesapeake Bypass pot, said Jess Goode of Strickland’s Washington, D.C., office.

"We had figured the amount into the total cost of the project," Mrs. Snedecor-Gray said

Strickland did not win approval of the transfer from the Appropriations Committee last year, but state officials were confident it would happen, she said.

In the big picture, all the road money gets mixed together for several southern Ohio projects, Goode said.

Those projects – the Chesapeake Bypass, the Ravenswood Connector, Route 35 and the Portsmouth Bypass – have moved forward much more quickly only because of the leveraging of federal and state dollars, he said.

"It puts all the money together to get these projects built."

In fact, the projects have received a Tier I ranking from Ohio’s Transportation Review Advisory Committee, Goode added.

The long-awaited Chesapeake Bypass is using some funding now while phase one continues in the environmental and detailed design stage, Mrs. Snedecor-Gray said.

The consultants expect to have a public hearing in the fall, when environmental documents will be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration, she said.

Phase one of construction – a connector from the east Huntington, W.Va., bridge to Ohio 775 and two lanes from that point to Ohio 7 near Athalia – is expected to start in mid-2002 and finish in mid-2004.

Also during that phase, right of way for the entire four lanes of the bypass will be purchased.