ODOT examines stretch of U.S. 52

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 3, 2007

On Thursday, the Ohio Department of Transportation showed off what it hopes to do to make some Lawrence County roads safer.

The ODOT project studied U.S. Route 52 from the Scioto County line to the West Huntington/17th Street (Nick Joe Rahall II) Bridge and State Route 7, as well as S.R. 7 from U.S. 52 to the village of Athalia. All access to the roads, the interchanges and stoplights were studied to make sure the roads can handle the current and future traffic needs.

The workshop was in the Bowman Auditorium at Ohio University Southern.

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Lawrence County Commissioner Jason Stephens said he thinks the projects will be good for the county and will help in a lot of ways.

“I think it is good to look at the county from east to west. When you’re driving along, its good to get an analysis of what’s going on,” he said. “It’s exciting to see what changes could happen.”

The project includes fairly simple things like adding stop lights in the Burlington area to bigger, long-term projects like changing the interchanges at U.S. 52 and State Route 93 and making the second phase and third phase of the Chesapeake Bypass.

Mark Dunzo, an engineer with Kimley-Horn and Associates — the firm designing the road projects — said the study was broken into three geographic parts, the west part which runs from the Scioto County line to Ironton, the Ashland bridge to the Burlington-Macedonia area and the Chesapeake area with access to Huntington, W.Va.

He said each section offers its own issue but most of it deals with access to the highway system.

“The first thing we did was focus on safety,” Dunzo said. He said there was input from local officials. “We interviewed about 20 local leaders and asked ‘What are your concerns?’”

Ralph Kline, the assistant director at the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization said that anything that keeps traffic flowing on the U.S. 52 corridor will help businesses.

“If you are in retail, people want easy access to your business. If you have an industrial site, your frieght needs to get out efficiently and your workers need to get to get to work,” he said. “Take a look at an Ohio map to see where economic development is taking place, it’s along the highway system.”

ODOT District 9 spokesperson Kathleen Fuller said project would be done in parts over years depending on costs of the individual project.

“Some things are already in the planning process such as signal coordination in the South Point-Burlington area. We are going to see some changes with the lights that are already there to make traffic flow better,” she said. “These will be the short-term projects we can get done right away.”

Other projects may be announced some time in the spring 2008.

The study will now go to the KYOVA planning commission for approval.

For a full report on the study, go to www.wvs.state.wv.us/kyova/US52/maps.

The public may also submit written comments until Dec. 1, via e-mail to Ssalameh@ntelos.net or by postal mail to:

Saleem A. Salameh, P.E.

Transportation Study Director, KYOVA Planning Commission, 720 Fourth Avenue, P.O. Box 939, Huntington, WV 25712-0939.