Transportation needs top our Christmas list

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Tribune editorial staff

Kudos to Congressman Ted Strickland for keeping Lawrence County in the hunt for some federal transportation dollars.

Strickland managed to get $1.25 million added to an omnibus appropriations bill that easily passed the House.

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The funding is earmarked for the next phase of the long-discussed Chesapeake Bypass, more recently labeled as the broader, Tri-State Metro Outerbelt.

Talked about and planned for more than 50 years, the bypass now remains in a state of limbo thanks to the Ohio Department of Transportation's sudden case of cold feet when costs on the first two phases of the project significantly exceeded budget estimates.

Strickland's funding is a drop in the bucket next to the full amount needed to complete the project. But, as the old saying goes, every little bit helps. What's more, Strickland's move shows folks at the state level that this project remains important.

And, perhaps, that's what the Chesapeake Bypass project needs - a continuing squeaky wheel. Eventually, if the area squeaks loud enough, maybe it will force ODOT to provide a little grease in the form of dollars.

With Christmas just around the corner, maybe, just maybe, Lawrence County could ask for two simple gifts for Christmas. The first, obviously, would be the completion of the Chesapeake Bypass. We'd like to see the project finished before another generation grows up and leaves the area due, at least in part, to the fact the transportation infrastructure isn't conducive to economic development.

For the second Christmas wish, we'd ask that someone at the county or state level begin to seriously pursue a coalition of southeast Ohio communities seeking a new, four-lane north-south corridor into the area. Wouldn't a combination of leaders from Lawrence and Jackson counties draw enough attention to at least be heard in Columbus?

It seems logical. But then again, we thought it was logical that the Chesapeake Bypass could be completed in say, the first 50 years of trying.