Nelsonville bypass delayed to 2015

The final stage of construction on the Nelsonville bypass will not begin until 2015 because increased construction and diesel costs have delayed funding for the project, an Ohio Department of Transportation representative said.

Phases two and three, originally scheduled for construction in 2008 and 2009, have been moved back to 2012 and 2015.

The Transportation Review Advisory Council, which makes decisions about funding distribution in Ohio, chose to delay phases two and three, said ODOT's public information officer Stephanie Filson.

However, ODOT is definitely committed to the project, she said.

We are planning to move forward as if there was no delay

Filson said.

The cost of construction materials such as steel, concrete and asphalt increased 43 percent over the past four years, according to ODOT data, and contributed to the delay. The price of diesel fuel also increased, Filson said.

The first phase of the construction of the Nelsonville bypass, which involves excavating 3.5 million cubic yards of dirt and some drainage work, should begin soon.

ODOT held open bidding for the first phase of the bypass on Aug. 29.

Kokosing Construction Company, Inc., which has headquarters in Fredericktown, Ohio, was lowest bidder at $21.5 million, almost 19 percent lower than the state engineer's estimate of $26.45 million.

Kokosing will be the contractor unless something is out of place in their paperwork, Filson said.

We just make sure the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed

she said about reviewing the paperwork.<br /><br />ODOT will accept separate bids for phases two and three, meaning Kokosing is not necessarily the contractor for the entire project, Filson said. <br /><br />The Nelsonville bypass, which has been discussed for 40 years, is the last step in improving Rt. 33 traffic. During the past few years, the I-77 Ravenswood Connector in West Virginia, the Lancaster bypass and the Rt. 33 Athens-to-Darwin Connector were completed. ODOT constructed an interchange at Rocksprings that opened Aug. 31.<br /><br />We anticipate when it's completed the bypass will definitely improve safety
mobility and access to Southeast Ohio
Filson said. We have a modern system both north and south of Nelsonville
and this is the last segment to be improved.<br /><br />The area where the four-lane highway decreases to two lanes is a safety issue, said Mark Hall, acting city manager for Nelsonville, and Filson.<br /><br />I know a lot of accidents that have happened in that area
Hall said. Safety is a big issue.<br /><br />In August 2003, a rehabilitation project aimed at improving the current situation in Nelsonville occurred, but it did not address the current safety issues and is not a replacement for the bypass, Filson said, adding that the bypass project has a lot of challenges because of its location and the terrain of the area.<br /><br />Hall said he did not know if the bypass would affect much of the city and did not think business will decrease because of the reduced traffic.<br /><br />I think Nelsonville is on its way to becoming a destination point
Hall said.
Angie Weaver

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