Chesapeake Bypass project gets $5 million: Would connect Southern Ohio, West Virginia

Published 8:15 am Tuesday, November 12, 2019

“It’s exciting news,” said Ohio State Rep. Jason Stephens, R-93, of the $5 million in funding that the Transportation Review Advisory Council has approved for the Chesapeake Bypass project that would connect the town with West Virginia.

The Chesapeake Bypass will be 5.2 miles of two-lane roads and have direct access to the Frank “Gunner” Gatski Memorial Bridge. The project would complete the interchanges on State Route 7, east of Chesapeake, to the completed interchange to the west and connect up with the Robert C. Byrd Bridge over the Ohio River.

The $5 million in TRAC funds breaks down to $1.5 million for the engineering design of the project and $3.5 million to  buy property for the right-of-ways for the project.

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Stephens said TRAC funding is very competitive, with all counties and municipalities vying for money for projects.

“We would like to see more of the funding, of course,” he said. “This is such a vital project for our community that it is important to keep going for it.”

He said the project has been under consideration for decades and that the progress being made on it is a good thing.

He said the actual construction of the bypass is still years away and it is a combination of two projects.

“It is almost a chicken and the egg type of thing,” he said. “If you look at it from the air, the Merritts Creek connector from Insterstate 64 into West Virginia State Route 2 almost perfectly lines up with the east end of the current bypass that is there by Fairland East Elementary School.”

That would help with completing the Huntington Outerbelt from the 17th Street Bridge to Exit 18 in Barboursville.

“Transportation is such a key component to any economic development,” Stephens said. “And you look at any major city, they have an outerbelt to move traffic in several different directions. I think this will really open up southern Ohio, and Lawrence County, of course, for further economic development. The moving of goods is what economies are based on.”

He said that a lot of economic development agencies, commissioners, the KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission and Ohio Department of Transportation District 9 have been working on the bypass project for years.

In a related meeting, the KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission will have an open house on Wednesday, Nov. 20 to discuss a new bridge crossing of the Ohio River, to connect Proctorville with West Virginia Route 2.

The purposes of the proposed crossing include improving cross-river mobility in the region and supporting completion of the Huntington Outerbelt. The study area focuses on three corridors connecting Ohio State Route 7 and West Virginia State Route 2. The corridors are located north of Proctorville, Ohio and in West Virginia where Nine Mile Road, Big Seven Mile Road and Big Ben Bowen Highway meet with West Virginia State Route 2. 

The meeting will be from 4–7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20, in the KYOVA offices at 400 Third Ave., Huntington, West Virginia.