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Project still on radar; final design needed

Right of way acquisition for the proposed Chesapeake Bypass is at 14 parcels as the Ohio Department of Transportation plans to ask for $65 million in state and federal funding for the project.

“We are still pursuing it as a project and funding wherever we can,” Kathleen Fuller, public information officer for the District 9, ODOT, said.

Building a highway to link the Portsmouth Bypass with the Village of Chesapeake and U.S. 52 has been on the radar of economic development leaders for at least the past 25 years. It has been touted as an outer belt for the Tri-State, making the eastern end of Huntington more accessible.

This month ODOT plans to apply for the funding from the TRAC (Transportation Review Advisory Council), which will make a decision by the end of the year. That money will fund the remainder of the real estate acquisition and construction.

Of those 14 parcels already acquired, 11 had houses on them. There are a total of 105 owners who will be affected by the bypass. Of those, 40 are total takes and 57 owners have parcels with structures on them.

“We are just approaching interested property owners,” Fuller said. “The only ones acquired are total takes where the entire property has to be acquired. Our real estate department is currently working on acquiring two parcels and they are researching the possibility of acquiring a third. They are also looking to identify a few other parcels for early acquisition.”

So far ODOT has spent $1,578,805 for acquisition and consulting services leaving $777,360 left to be spent for the initial round of purchases.

Originally, the bypass was to be a four-lane highway and ODOT plans to acquire rights of way as if that were still the case.

“We have scaled it back working with a consultant,” Fuller said. “It is now a super two with an acceleration lane in some places, but it is basically two lanes. We don’t have a final design, but by building a super two we can bring the price down.”