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ODOT: Bypass will wait one year

State transportation officials will delay Chesapeake Bypass construction for one year, needing more time for property buyouts and interchange studies.

Friday, September 15, 2000

State transportation officials will delay Chesapeake Bypass construction for one year, needing more time for property buyouts and interchange studies.

The Ohio Department of Transportation now expects to award a construction contract in March 2003.

"Realistically, we can’t get the property bought," said John Hagen, ODOT District 9 deputy director.

Directors met with ODOT’s real estate acquisition team Wednesday, discussing progress needed to meet the March 2002 date for first stage construction – from the 31st Street bridge in Proctorville to Ohio 775 and around to Ohio 7 near Fairland East Elementary.

"It became apparent to me that due to the number of families needing to be relocated and the unavailability of suitable replacement housing, at this time, it would create undue hardship on the affected Lawrence County residents to have everyone relocated for the project by December 2001," Hagen said.

Perhaps some people will see it as a broken promise, but there’s not much ODOT can do right now, he added.

"We’ve got 60 plus relocations, 100 plus properties and 40 total takes to do within a year to meet the (original) 2002 date," Hagen said. "That’s impossible."

Real estate teams did not expect to hit this type of delay, and it’s hard to forecast such events, he said.

Also, ODOT has requested the R.D. Zande company, the engineering firm retained for the project, to do further in-depth studies of costs and restraints of interchange locations.

That move comes in response to Rome Township residents who don’t favor a planned interchange in the Beulah Lane area.

"They’re really shifting the problem from Proctorville and putting it on Beulah Lane and that will not work," resident Tom Burcham.

Burcham and a group of residents took their concerns to Hagen at Thursday’s Greater Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce’s county projects exhibit.

The residents want the bypass constructed but a Beulah Lane interchange will mean a traffic jump from 1,400 cars to 4,600, including delivery trucks, which is unsafe for the residential area, Burcham said.

Hagen said the interchange is planned to handle residential traffic, another way to fend off traffic congestion on Ohio 7.

"The township is the biggest traffic generator and if you don’t have that access, the bypass won’t help," he said.

Residents agreed, but said the interchange should be shifted to accommodate truck traffic and not impact a heavily populated residential section.

It should be connected nearer to the main section of Ohio 243 nearer the fairgrounds, where the majority of truck traffic ends up now, Burcham said.

Township trustees do not favor the Beulah Lane interchange and residents are planning a local petition drive, he said.

Meanwhile, as contractors reconsider interchanges and finish environmental assessments, ODOT teams are planning to start the property acquisition process in early 2001, Hagen said.