A key part of a busy truck route in Ohio is going to get a makeover, years ahead of schedule, thanks to the federal stimulus program.
The Nelsonville Bypass project aims to build a four-lane, 8.5-mile route around that town, which is located on U.S. 33 about 70 miles southeast of Columbus, on a route truckers like to use to reach Charleston, W. Va.
A problem is that U.S. 33 now shrinks from four lanes to two as it reaches Nelsonville. With 1,700 trucks using the route each day to reach the state capitals on either end, state officials say it is one of the busiest truck routes in Ohio.
Work to complete the four-lane thoroughfare was set for three phases, and the first one began in 2007 with initial grading and other work north of town. The next two phases were set to launch in 2012 and 2015, at a projected cost of $150 million, but a grant from the Recovery Act is getting the work started this month.
Bids came in lower than expected at $138 million, and the award is the largest stimulus project in Ohio so far.
Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez joined Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and other state and local officials at Nelsonville Oct. 13 to kick it off. “The Nelsonville Bypass is not only good for the state's economy, it is also helping to connect communities in Ohio and West Virginia,” said Mendez.
The Columbus Dispatch said it will take nearly four years to complete the work. The bypass is slated to open in July 2013, it said. When it is done, the four-lane highway will run from Columbus to Athens, Ohio, southeast of Nelsonville.
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