Interstate Planning Commission announces start of transportation plan

Published 10:10 am Friday, October 22, 2010

The KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission announced Thursday the beginnings of a metropolitan transportation plan to identify and improve transportation across Cabell, Wayne and Lawrence counties, Huntington and Ironton as a whole.

Over the next two to four years, projects will be identified and construction will begin, on what Jason Stephens, Lawrence County Commissioner, said can be the return of our region to a healthy job market, a vibrant community, a gateway to tourism, and an unsurpassed quality of life.

“A sound transportation system is the key to all of those things,” he said. “The plan will literally determine transportation’s future of the region, defining new highways, transits, pedestrian, air, waterways, and intermobile facilities to meet the needs of citizens and commerce.”

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The $1 million project has been worked on over the past few months and is now officially ready to commence. Scott Bias, Cabell County commissioner, announced the KYOVA Metropolitan Transportation Plan Steering Committee has been appointed, and includes 23 members from across the counties and cities involved, including Bill Dingus, Ralph Cline, Jeff Lawless and Stephens, all from Lawrence County.

The money for this project comes from the Department of Transportation in Ohio and West Virginia, as well as federal and state funding.

“It’s the biggest thing of its kind that has ever been done in this region,” Stephens said. He said it takes all the counties and cities involved and puts them under one umbrella of transportation.

Stephens said he is excited to look into the near future, within the next five, 10 or 20 years from now at a ribbon cutting for a road or a project that will come from what is starting now. He is also excited about what this can to bring to the area.

Ralph Kline, assistant executive director of the Lawrence County Community Action Organization, said the endeavor is extremely important to the overall development of the Lawrence County area, as transportation can affect many things from recruiting businesses to housing value.

Kline said he is pleased with how the community has communicated well in past years and said this plan provides the forum for how the Tri-State needs to function as a metro community.

“From that we can develop investment strategies, long-term and short-term,” Kline said.

“We have a great basis to build on, to launch the Tri-Sate back into the spotlight as one of the prime logistic centers in the world,” Stephens said. “It already is. However, everyone needs to know it. We just need to spread that message. And we realize we need to improve the system where we can to take advantage of our place in the world.”