TRAC to show new project list next March

Published 11:09 am Thursday, October 28, 2010

Funds sought for Chesapeake Bypass, The Point

By March, Lawrence County will learn how many, if any, steps farther along is the much-sought-after Chesapeake Bypass, a project proposed about a half-century ago.

That’s when the TRAC panel will put out its list of projects it will fund in 2011 and how much each approved project will get.

That’s what the Ohio Department of Transportation told a roundtable forum of business leaders and government officials Wednesday morning at the county’s maintenance garage.

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Earlier this month officials from the county and District 9 presented a wish list of projects it wants to see advanced. Among those were the bypass and a segment of the The Point Intermodal RiverPort, along with the Portsmouth Bypass, the Waverly Connector and Brown-68 Widening.

“It’s been a summer of jobs and recovery,” James Brushart, district deputy director, told the audience.

For the current biennium ODOT has on schedule 30 percent more construction projects than at any other period in its history.

“Investing in transportation projects is good for taxpayers,” Brushart said. “We are getting really good quotes now. A lot of contractors are looking for work.”

Right now quotes are coming in on average 30 to 40 percent below ODOT estimate.

“That means more money to be spent on our highways,” he said.

Locally funds are sought for completing the Ohio River frontage of The Point to connect it to the segment for the transfer facility that has already been financed through stimulus money.

The overall goal is to transform the former Allied Chemical plant site into river-rail-truck transfer port. What is sought from TRAC is money to construct a river dock, overhead crane and possible warehouse.

Last year TRAC provided $3 million to go with a federal earmark of $3.9 million to go toward the $150 million construction price tag of the Chesapeake Bypass to connect State Route 7 at the Robert C. Byrd Bridge to Proctorville.

This month ODOT officials put in a new application for additional funds. Money is already in place for design and a small part of the right of way acquisition.

Also discussed at the forum was the upcoming construction of the Ironton-Russell Bridge scheduled to begin in June 2011 at an estimate of $95 million.

The structure is slated to resemble the Grant Memorial Bridge at Portsmouth with its twin tower cable style.

“This has been a long time coming,” Gary Cochenour, District 9 production administrator, said. “We’re on track and it is looking like it is going to bid in June. This is a very important accomplishment.”

The most recent proposed project is another phase of the Chesapeake Bypass that would connect State Route 7 to U.S. 35 in Gallia County. However, right now there is no funding available.

“It would be significant for Lawrence County, if that were to be,” Cochenour said.