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Bypass help not enough

Sometimes progress is as much about perception as it is actual impact.

That is the case when it comes to the recent announcement that the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Review Advisory Council has allocated $3 million in state funding to continue driving the Chesapeake Bypass — or Tri-State Metro Outerbelt if you prefer — toward completion.

Although this announcement was celebrated as a major victory, it is really only a drop in the bucket toward the total project that has been projected to cost more than $100 million.

But we will take whatever we can get.

This project has been a dream for more than four decades, with some broken promises and lots of delays along the way.

These dollars will go toward completion of the design work of Phase 2 of the project that would ultimately connect U.S. 52 with State Route 7 on the far side of Proctorville.

When coupled with Phase 1 that created better access to West Virginia, the overall bypass is important for our region because it would create better interconnection between Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia as well as improving travel east and west along the Ohio River.

Now is time for ODOT to look at the big picture and realize that this impacts more than just the population of Lawrence County. The entire metropolitan area has to be factored into the decision to move forward.

If this were Cleveland or Columbus, this project would have been completed years ago.

This $3 million dollars may not be all that we need, but it does show that we haven’t been forgotten.

And we must make sure that this project never is.