• 37°

Federal money moves Chesy Bypass forward

Federal monies approved when the U.

Wednesday, December 05, 2001

Federal monies approved when the U.S. Senate passed a nationwide transportation bill guarantees construction for the long-awaited Chesapeake Bypass project, U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland said.

"If the state keeps its commitment, and I know of no reason it wouldn’t I think we finally have all the pieces in place to guarantee the necessary funding to move it forward," Strickland said.

The congressman announced Tuesday afternoon – just after the Senate vote – that $4 million in the Transportation Appropriations bill previously passed by the House on Friday had been earmarked for the Chesapeake Bypass.

The money represents the final portion of funds Strickland worked to get under the Southern Ohio Highway Compact signed in November 1998 – just after a heated political race between the incumbent congressman and challenger Nancy Hollister, which drew bypass funding into the fray.

The Compact was an agreement between Strickland, Lawrence, Scioto, Meigs and Ross county commissioners, state officials, Appalachian Regional Commission and others to use federal funds and other resources to leverage enough state monies to complete the bypass.

At that time, the estimated bypass cost was about $30 million, with the state willing to commit about $15 million and KYOVA committing about $3.5 million, Strickland said.

"I had previously earmarked $3.75 million, then as a result of the deal (Southern Ohio Compact) I committed getting an additional $3.75 million transferred from the Route 35 project for a total of $7.5 million," he said. "Then I committed in writing to (the Ohio Department of Transportation) that I would seek an additional $4 million in appropriation funds.

"This represents the $4 million commitment in 1998."

The total, including the state’s share, should now stand at about $30 million, which should place the Chesapeake Bypass on the Tier 1 funding list, Strickland added.

"As I’ve said to others today, I feel good about being able to keep word," he said. "I hope the folks there feel the same way. It’s obviously needed and it’s been a long time coming."

The money for the project comes even though federal money has been short, the congressman said.

"In light of the tight federal budget and the small number of earmarked projects in this year’s Transportation Appropriations bill, I am especially pleased that this project was included," Strickland said.

This highway is an important component in the future growth of Lawrence County, and represents the combined efforts of Congress, the ARC and the state of Ohio, he said.

"It’s now up to the state of Ohio to take the next step and complete this vital highway project."

ODOT started land acquisition this year for the first phase of the bypass – from the 31st Street bridge in Proctorville toward Ohio 775. The state expects to begin construction on that two-lane phase next summer, although right of way is being bought for the entire four-lane project.

The Federal Highway Administration approved the project’s environmental impact statement this April, then followed with approval of the "record of decision."