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In the Works

Thursday evening, Tri-State Transit Authority management and local officials had a public hearing to allow public input on proposed changes to the bus routes in Lawrence County.

While TTA leaders pitched their plans, other local officials were ready and waiting with updates on other projects underway or ready to commence soon, such as the downtown lofts project in Ironton, the Charley Creek Road interchange improvements and several projects at The Point industrial park.

County officials point not only to these projects but to others as well — the new medical facility at U.S. 52 and State Route 93, the new St. Mary’s facility off State Route 141, the Ironton sewer system relining and manhole refurbishment — as rays of hope on the horizon.

“I don’t believe people understand where we are. There’s been a lot of work, a lot of leadership and lots of cooperative effort to get here,” Greater Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Dr. Bill Dingus said.

The TTA

The Tri-State Transit Authority carries 1,800 riders each month on both its West Virginia and Ohio routes.

New changes this spring may make bus ridership easier and more convenient for Buckeyes and allow more Ohio residents the opportunity to board a bus.

“We’re adjusting the schedule to meet the demand,” TTA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul E. Davis said. “We’ve been in service about a year and a half and we’re at a point we kind of know where our customers are.”

Mike Payne, director of public transportation for the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization, said effective the first Monday in April, the TTA will make six stops a day in Ashland, Ky., instead of the current four.

“We feel like this will absolutely help the ridership,” Payne said. “If people in Ironton want to go to King’s Daughters, Bellefonte, Walmart, right now they may have to wait three hours before the next one (bus) comes along. This makes it easier to shop and come back and not have to wait so long.”

Buses to Ashland will depart the Second Street/Park Avenue stop at 7:40 a.m., 9:20 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:10 p.m., 2:50 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. Those buses make stops at Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, the Ashland Walmart, Ashland Town Center, King’s Daughters Medical Center, Ashland Depot and Tri-State Industries before returning to Ironton.

Also, Ironton riders who want to go to the eastern end will be able to catch a Huntington/Ironton bus from Second Street and Park Avenue, instead of catching a smaller, downtown bus that takes them to the Ironton Hills Shopping Center where they transfer to a large bus to go the eastern end.

Eastern end bus routes will undergo changes too. The bus route will make a loop on State Route 243 through Proctorville in the area of the Ohio University Proctorville Center.

Also the Dial-A-Ride offering is being expanded to include people living within three-quarters of a mile of the fixed route in the Chesapeake-Proctorville area. The Dial-A-Ride program is for people who can’t, either physically or mentally, wait for and ride a regular TTA bus.

To arrange for Dial-A-Ride service, those interested may call 894-7430. The regular TTA number is 894-7433.

Transit center/lofts

City officials have long contended one of the keys to revitalizing the city’s downtown is to bring people to the central business district not only to work and shop but also to live.

To that end, the adjoining Berg and Brumberg buildings along Vernon Street between Second and Third streets are being renovated into a multi-use facility that will eventually house the offices of the county’s bus system as well as provide upper bracket loft-style apartments.

A contract has been awarded to Lang Masonry and Construction of Belpre for masonry, windows and exterior renovations to the Berg building facing Second Street. That company should begin work within 60 days. The contract for the general contractor was rebid. Those bids are due this week.

Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization Assistant Executive Director Ralph Kline said he hopes to get state historic tax credits for the Brumberg building just as the city did with the adjoining Berg building.

Late last year, the Ohio Director of Development announced the Berg side of the project had gotten a state historic preservation tax credit of up to $1.9 million, something Kline described at the time as a critical piece of the $8.1 million project’s financial puzzle.

“Construction should start this year and finish in 2011,” Kline said.

The first floor of the Berg building (facing Second Street) will have office space and public area for the transit center. The second floor of the Berg building will have a meeting room and apartments. Apartments will be built on the third floor as well.

There will be a rooftop garden on top of the Berg building that will be used by the apartment occupants.

The first floor of the Brumberg building will have public areas. Part of the second floor will have office space, the rest of the building will be divided into apartments.

Work also continues to redevelop a parking lot adjacent to Austyn’s restaurant and the new Friends of Ironton Sprayground into a multi-use area to accommodate street vendors during the city’s festivals, have open space for the farmer’s market, accommodate bus riders throughout the day and still be used for parking when needed. The cost of the project is $1.23 million.

“Our target is to start after Rally (on the River 2010),” Kline said. “We want to get things started and finish by the end of 2011.”

Construction on the waterpark also continues. The new recreation spot should be operational by Memorial Day weekend. FOI is selling commemorative bricks that will pave the area around the water fountain. For more information or to purchase a brick, call 532-9755.

The Point

Probably one of the most visibly active areas of the county is The Point industrial park in South Point.

Work continues to build an intermodal facility that would be used to transfer goods between rail, river and truck. Work also continues on two new spec buildings that will be used to lure business and industry to the area.

The Ohio Department of Development has identified $9.5 million that can be used for development projects in the state. Local officials will go to the ODED controlling board this spring to ask for money for the roughly $14.5 million project. Dingus said engineering plans for all intermodal projects will likely be completed early this summer.

Two new spec buildings are also in the works, one privately funded by the Portsmouth-based Hadsell Development Corp. and the other by the LEDC.

The Hadsell spec building will be a 60,000 square-foot shell. Ground work is being done at this time; the building should be ready for marketing by summer.

The LEDC spec building will be 60,000-100,000 square feet and will cost $1 million to $1.5 million. Site work is being performed at this time. The building should be ready for marketing later this year.

The foreign trade zone at The Point is officially in the activation process and should be in operation as soon as a fence around the perimeter of the property and a security system are completed.

Charley Creek

The intersection at Charley Creek Road and U.S. 52 is one of the most dangerous in Lawrence County, according to a study conducted by the KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission.

Jody Sigmon, associate planner for KYOVA, said a final design plan to alter traffic flow has not yet been finalized. Right now the project is in the comment phase, allowing people affected by proposed changes to make suggestions or complaints.