We are not about to let bypass project die

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 27, 2004

Tribune editorial staff

Listen up, Columbus: We may have lost a battle, but we are far from giving up in this war.

Lawrence County will not rest until the Tri-State Metro Outer Belt (formerly the Chesapeake Bypass) is built.Yes, an amendment to House Bill 230 proposed by Sen. John Carey that would mandate the Ohio Department of Transportation to purchase the right-of-way for the project was shot down by the Senate’s Highway and Transportation Committee, but we are not giving up on this project.

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Late last year, ODOT’s Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) left the bypass off its

$3.7 billion tentative project list for

2005-2010. Earlier this month, TRAC declined an appeal to add the bypass to the list.

We will have local leaders in Columbus to testify before the legislature. Our state- and federal-level elected officials, including Carey, U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland and state Reps. Todd Book and Clyde Evans are behind us. If you think we will go home with our tails between our legs, you are sadly mistaken.

After all, we have been waiting for this project to commence for more than 50 years. The project began and now we are being told the remainder of it will not be funded.

This project was left for dead so many times, but we had enough people who would not let it go of a dream to have the bypass built. It may have taken far too long to happen, but we finally had - or at least thought we had - crossed the final hurdle.

When Gov. Bob Taft was on hand for the ground-breaking for Phase 1A of the project in June 2002, he told Lawrence County he was committed to getting funding so the entire $150 million project could be completed. Well, Gov. Taft, we are ready to hold you to your word.

We feel the state has let us down. The Ohio Department of Transportation has not honored its commitment to the people of Lawrence County.

Ironically, when Gov. Taft was in Lawrence County that day, he was quoted as saying "Today is a tribute to the power of persistence." Without a doubt, Lawrence County will be persistent until it gets what it deserves. After all, we've been waiting since the 1950s.