Commissioners expected to sign bypass endorsement letter

Joedy McCreary

May 6, 2013

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

The Scioto County Commissioners are expected to sign a letter of support endorsing the Public-Private Partnership (P3) process the Ohio Department Of Transportation (ODOT) is using to fund the proposed Portsmouth Bypass.

“This (letter of support) shows ODOT they (the commissioners) are supportive of the highway project here in the county,” said Todd Book, Scioto County interim-Economic Development Director. “I think the commissioners realize the importance of this project in terms of economic development. This is something that’s been talked about for years. Using P3 provides an opportunity for the project to get done within a much quicker time frame. I think they are saying February of 2014 as a start date.”

Book said the commissioners were wise in their decision to ask ODOT for additional projects to go along with the construction of the bypass.

He said the additional projects include using access dirt from the project to expand the runway of the Greater Portsmouth Airport in Minford. He said ODOT is also looking into a project that would enhance the interchange in Franklin Furnace.

According to Book, ODOT has indicated they would be willing to use the projects access dirt for the airport expansion, however he said they are still considering the Franklin Furnace project.

The endorsement letter is divided into six headers or reasons why county officials are endorsing the project.

One of the reasons for endorsing the Portsmouth Bypass project is that it is long overdue. ODOT is finding a solution to deliver this project earlier as an important economic development and transportation link. Improving traffic flow and saving lives in Southern Ohio and coordination of regional needs and improvements were the other reasons cited in the letter.

In terms of the economic impact of the project, the letter states, “according to the 2007-2011 records of the US Census Bureau, Scioto County has a population with 21.8 percent living below the poverty level with the entire state average at 14.8 percent. In 2012, there was 34.5 percent of the population of Scioto County on food assistance according to Jobs and Family Services. According to February unemployment rates, this region has four of the top 15 highest unemployment rates in the state of Ohio being Pike (13.7 percent), Adams (12.6), Scioto (11.9 percent) and Jackson (10.2 percent) with Pike County being No. 1. The construction of these projects will infuse money into the regional economies through the purchase of both goods and services of Scioto County and adjoining counties. The economics of infusing over $500 million dollars of work into Scioto County will dramatically affect the standard of living of numerous communities throughout the region. Providing workforce opportunity through construction contract incentives or requirements to employ within the regionally depressed area of the state would reinvigorate the regional workforce.”

The letter concludes by stating, “we the undersigned community representatives believe that the construction of the Portsmouth Bypass, the interchange at US-52 and Junior Furnace-Powellsville Road and the extension of the Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport are necessary to address the safety, mobility and economic needs of this area of the state. Through our support we request that funds are committed for the completion of these projects and that appropriate decisions be made to facilitate the timely completion of these much needed projects while providing regional workforce opportunities.”

Book said the letter will likely be endorsed and sent to ODOT later this week.

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.