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ODOT looking at Portsmouth bypass

Area residents who frequently travel through Scioto County’s U.

Sunday, September 02, 2001

Area residents who frequently travel through Scioto County’s U.S. 23 corridor have often said Portsmouth needed a bypass.

Now, the Ohio Department of Transportation’s District 9 is bringing that project closer to reality. ODOT has retained TranSystems Corporation of Dublin, Ohio, to complete environmental studies and preliminary engineering for the proposed Portsmouth Bypass, District 9 deputy director John Hagen said.

The proposed bypass, a component of the Appalachian Development Highway System, is intended to improve not only regional traffic patterns but also the potential for economic development within the surrounding region, ODOT reports state.

A recently completed feasibility study found that a new 16-mile freeway connecting U.S. 52 east of New Boston to U.S. 23 north of Lucasville would reduce the travel time between these two points by about 16 minutes. A motorist making that trip twice each workday would save nearly 140 hours per year. With over 17,000 vehicles per day currently making this trip, motorists would save a total of 1.5 million hours each year.

The economic development potential of the bypass was a critical issue during the planning study due to the high unemployment and poverty rates in Scioto County and the region, Hagen said.

The feasibility study concluded that the proposed bypass would provide access to potential development areas and would increase Scioto County’s chances in attracting new business investments.

No specific alignment was suggested by the feasibility study, with a one-mile wide corridor recommended for more detailed analysis to determine the best location for the new route, Hagen said.

The consultant is now in the process of mailing notices to property owners within the study corridor. In addition, the consultant will begin research and field studies to determine the presence of important environmental resources within the corridor and the potential impacts on residents and businesses.

The study will benefit from public input, and comments will be accepted by phone, fax and e-mail, with a Web site available in October, Hagen said.

Moreover, public meetings will be held at several points during the two-year study prior to the selection of a final alignment for the new roadway. The findings will be summarized in an Environmental Impact Statement for approval by the Federal Highway Administration.