Group looks at transportation

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

Lawrence County community leaders drove north to make sure Columbus is looking at traffic patterns to the south.

During the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Legislative Day, the organization’s transportation committee presented and received updates on several projects, including the Tri-State Metro Outerbelt, plans for a new Ironton-Russell Bridge and safety and ongoing public transportation studies.

“We have not forgotten highway construction, but we are looking at other issues,” said Bob Dalton, transportation committee chairperson.

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One of the biggest concerns on the minds of many Lawrence Countians has been the Ohio Department of Transportation’s plans earlier this year to halt the project to replace the Ironton-Russell Bridge after bids came in way over projections and material expenses were higher than anticipated. District 9 Director Harry Fry said he should have a full report in the next few weeks after ODOT architects began reevaluating all aspects of the project.

“It sounds encouraging. Director (Gordon) Proctor had promised the bridge,” Fry said. “I can’t promise that, but I can promise we will fight for this bridge. I had a positive feeling.”

Everything will be examined including the decision to make it a cable-stayed span and how the condition of the current span plays into that role, Fry said.

He said that work on the Chesapeake Bypass continues, despite 17 road slips that have contributed to the project more than doubling its cost from $22 million to more than $48 million. Phase 1B should be completed in October.

Phase 2 would connect Chesapeake with Proctorville, bypassing State Route 7. This part is currently in the land acquisition stage but going slow because of limited funding on a project that is estimated to cost $114 million.

“We will keep on the bypass. … Lawrence County deserves it,” State Rep. Clyde Evans (R-87th) said later in the day. “You have been waiting 30 to 40 years and we are not going to let up.”

Doug Cade, consultant with E.L. Robinson Engineering, outlined the current status of a safety study that has identified a variety of problems along U.S. 52 including poor stop light synchronization and need for more visibility and traffic signals.

The KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission will host two information meetings today to seek public input on traffic and safety concerns on U.S. 52 and State Route 7.

The first will be from 1 to 4 p.m. today at Ohio University Southern in the caucus room in the academic building and from 6 to 8 p.m. at OU Proctorville Center.

“Any kind of information from the public is wonderful,” said Doug Rice, of KYOVA. “… Whatever it take to improve transpiration, that is what it is all about.”

For more information on this project contact KYOVA at (304) 523-7434 or by e-mail at

Kevin Mischler, a consultant with RLS and Associates, also gave the group an update on a current public transportation study. The firm is looking at three options: a fixed route from Huntington to Ironton, a circular route through Ironton and Ashland and a coordination plan that would utilize all existing agencies that provide service.

“A public transportation system will have immediate impact on the economics of individuals and families,” he said. “As we look at economic impact, public transportation is part of that in all counties.”