Halting bypass project would be slap in face

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Tribune editorial staff

For more than 30 years, Lawrence County residents have waited patiently for the Chesapeake Bypass.

When ground was finally broken in June 2002, the project appeared to be a reality. A year and a half into construction, though, funding for the project has apparently been frozen.

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When the state's Transportation Review Advisory Council approved $3.7 billion for major new highway projects for 2005-2010, the Chesapeake Bypass was not on the list. Only two phases of the four-phase project have been funded, which leads us to ask: What now? Since the funding cycle is for the years 2005-2010, does this mean we will have a half-finished project for the next six years?

The TRAC has approved funding for three projects in Southeastern Ohio - the Portsmouth Bypass in Scioto County, the Nelsonville Bypass in Hocking and Athens counties and upgrades to State Route 7 in Washington County. We have waited patiently for the Chesapeake Bypass project to come to fruition. Putting it on hold would be nothing more than a slap in the face.

We are not discounting the importance of other highway projects in the state, but completion the Chesapeake Bypass is long overdue. Members of the TRAC committee should take a ride through the area during peak times. Perhaps then,

they would see the true need.

When Gov. Bob Taft attended the groundbreaking in June, he said he was committed to completing the entire $150 million project. We hope this was not merely lip service.

The draft project list will be subject to a 90-day public comment period before the TRAC approves a final list in May. We encourage all Lawrence County residents and elected officials - as well as our representatives at the statehouse - to raise a stink about the project being off the list. It's one thing to take 30 years to keep a promise, but it's another to keep only half of it.