Officials asks for more projects to go along with bypass

April 20, 2013

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

At the Southern Ohio Port Authority meeting on Thursday, it was made know that officials have asked the Ohio Department Of Transportation to do additional road projects in unison with the construction of the Portsmouth Bypass.

During the last SOPA meeting, now SOPA Chairman and Scioto County Interim Economic Development Director Todd Book updated the group on the Public-Private Partnership (P3) process being used to possibly fund the construction of the Portsmouth Bypass.

When asked for additional updates, Book stated, “since the last meeting there has been a few more meetings with folks from ODOT. They’ve met with the commissioners as well as other elected officials in the community. They really want to see this project move forward, and understand a lot of the concerns that have been expressed concerning the jobs at the ODOT garage. They have also been told that in addition to the bypass, we would like to have some other assurances that the contract between ODOT and this private contractor would be sufficient with the necessary penalties in place if they don’t follow what they are supposed to there, there will be contractual liabilities for them.”

Book said the request has also been made to ODOT that certain projects be completed in addition to the bypass.

“The bypass goes through the Minford area and makes the airport a centerpiece of the bypass. But, yet our airport is only 5,100 feet long and we need it to be longer than that. One way to make that happen is to use the waste dirt from the construction can be taken to the airport and compacted properly so we are ready to extend that airport to a more usable length,” Book said. “Another issue that’s been put forward is, as this project moves forward, the interchange in Franklin Furnace where you have to exit left to enter Franklin Furnace needs to be rebuilt. That has been a problem for a longtime and to be able to open that area up for more development we need to build a new interchange and we’re requesting that be part of this discussion as well.”

Book said if these other projects occur it would make it a lot easier for people to be supportive of this project.

“At the meeting they (other elected officials) said we’ll do what ever the commissioners say (in supporting the P3 process or not). Everyone is looking towards the commissioners to see what they are going to do,” Book said. “I think they may act next week (on a possible P3 endorsement.)”

For years ODOT has said the bypass would be constructed in three phases and as funding becomes available.

Phase 1 of the construction will be from Shumway Hollow Road to Lucasville Minford Road and is slated to cost an estimated $83 million with a time frame of three years to complete. Phase 2 of the construction has a five-year time frame for completion. Construction is set to begin at Lucasville Minford Road to U.S. 23 and is expected to cost an estimated $242 million. Phase 3 is estimated to begin construction in 2017. Construction is slated for Shumway Hollow Road to U.S. 52. This phase is expected to cost $281 million.

The construction cost is an estimated $405 million. The grand total project cost is roughly estimated at more than $650 million.

“What we know today is that if we utilized the status quo way of doing things, there is not enough money to fund the entire project. If we consider outside-the-box thinking, then we’re going to have a much better chance at getting something complete much sooner,” said Steve Faulkner, ODOT Press Secretary.

Faulkner said as an agency, ODOT has some money ready to go and has completely funded Phase 1.

“It’s those two subsequent phases that we are scratching our heads about saying, ‘how are we going to get this done?’ Because we don’t have the money now and we’re not going to have the money in the next couple of decades,” Faulkner said.

The Portsmouth Bypass has been the topic of discussion for a number of years throughout the community and ODOT. When asked what the reality is of this project get done, Faulkner said, “good.”

For more information about the bypass, visit www.portsmouthbypass.com or call 888-819-8501, ext. 774-8834.

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or tallen@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.