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ODOT: Bypass in final plan stage

County residents crowded the Fairland High School Gym last week to voice their opinions on the Chesapeake Bypass before final environmental documents are submitted to the Federal Highway Administration.

Tuesday, December 26, 2000

County residents crowded the Fairland High School Gym last week to voice their opinions on the Chesapeake Bypass before final environmental documents are submitted to the Federal Highway Administration.

The property acquisition phase should start early next year, and take 18 months to complete, Ohio Department of Transportation District 9 officials said. Actual construction is slated for spring 2003.

Area citizens met with engineers and planners on the project Thursday, and saw maps that showed the boundaries of the project and which properties would be affected by it.

ODOT District 9 spokesperson Kathleen Fuller said that reactions from the public have been mixed.

"There is concern on the part of property owners affected by it," Mrs. Fuller said. "They have lots of questions and they want to know how it will evolve in regards to the process of property acquisition and right-of-way."

Many of the residents in attendance had property that will be affected by the bypass in some way.

"It’s great. It’s going to take my home but it’s great," said Proctorville resident Lee Shockley.

Shockley said that he felt that it was about time for the bypass to be built.

"They were talking about putting this bypass in when I moved to Proctorville in 1980. Back then, it was a possibility that my home was in the path of the bypass," said Debbie Hays, another Proctorville resident. "Since then, I’ve moved. My only concern now is the traffic through my neighborhood that will try to get onto the bypass."

The limited access bypass will have interchange points at Ohio 527 and Shafertown road, Ohio 607/775 and Ohio 243 via Kinley Avenue, ODOT said.

Other residents less directly affected by the bypass still had concerns, they said.

"They keep telling us they want to pull all the traffic from State Route 7 because of the accident rates there," said Clifford Dudley. "But this bypass is poorly planned out. They’re going to back traffic up so bad that people will be using the same roads that they’re trying to pull them off of."

The bypass project surfaced in the late 1960s, Mrs. Fuller said. Sometime in the 70s, they had a plan in place but there weren’t funds for the project. Then, the plans were ruled out due to environmental concerns. The current plans were made in 1994.

Also on hand to see the plans Thursday was U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland. Strickland helped to pass legislation to fund the bypass.

"This is a project that is long past due," Strickland said.

Strickland said that the project now has $7.5 million earmarked for preliminary work. He said that he expected more money would come from upcoming highway legislation.

The total cost of the project – in three phases – is estimated at $155 million. The cost of phase 1, including right-of-way buyouts for the entire project and environmental work, totals about $46 million, ODOT said.

Although the Thursday hearing was a forum for citizens to submit comments to ODOT as part of the final record for the project, anyone who wants to submit a written statement may still do so by send it to: The Ohio Department of Transportation, District 9 Deputy Director, 650 Eastern Ave., Chillicothe, OH 45601.

All written statements must be received by Jan. 4.