Legislation for Chesapeake Bypass fails

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 26, 2004

State Sen. John Carey may have struck out Tuesday trying obtain funding for the Chesapeake Bypass, but he knows the game is far from over.

Taking his concerns over the uncertain future of the project to the Senate's Highway and Transportation Committee, Carey proposed an amendment to House Bill 230 - an omnibus bill that focuses on public safety and transportation - that would mandate the Ohio Department of Transportation to purchase the right-of-way for the project.

Unfortunately, the amendment did not make it past first base.

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"We did not have the votes to get it passed, but we did get an interest from Senate leadership to try to help us continue to put the pressure on ODOT to move the project forward," Carey said via voice mail late Tuesday.

"We were able to make our points about the promises that were made and that we considered it an insult to say that southern Ohio has received too much money. It is an ongoing debate and it will continue."

Land acquisition for Phase 2 is projected to cost between $15 and $20 million. Earlier this month, ODOT's Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) declined an appeal to add the bypass to its $3.7 billion tentative project list for 2005-2010.

ODOT officials have cited a number of reasons for not finishing the project including cost overruns on the first phases, a lack of safety issues and the fact that the first phases can stand alone.

The TRAC committee did encourage Lawrence County leaders to return later this year to make another pitch for the rest of the project. In the meantime, many county residents who own

affected property have put their lives on hold.

The Lawrence County Commissioners made the trip to the state house Tuesday to support Sen. Carey's efforts, though the trip was in vain.

"I came away with a little better feeling than I did after the (TRAC) meeting," Commissioner George Patterson said. "He made his point and let them know that we are here and we are not going to go away."

Based on its original design, the four-phased bypass project would construct a four-lane highway spanning nine miles from State Route 7 where the four-lane currently dead ends to State Route 7 on the other side of Proctorville.

Phase 1A was completed and Phase 1B is under construction. Still up in the air, Phase 2 of the project would construct two eastbound lanes from State Route 7 to State Route 527. Phase 3 would construct two westbound lanes and complete the interchanges.