By Frank Lewis
Portsmouth Vice-Mayor Kevin W. Johnson said he, along with Southern Ohio Port Authority Director Jason Kester, met in Columbus with officials from the Ohio Department of Transportation last week. He said they were presented with a timeline surrounding the Portsmouth Bypass Project which will begin on U.S. 23 at the Lucasville Minford Road and end on U.S. 52 east toward Lawrence County.
“On February 21, coming up, the Attorney General’s Office will be filing an Appropriations of Properties case,” Johnson said. “What this is is the eminent domain of properties along the route, including our mayor’s property.”
Johnson said, in April, the state will issue the final Request for Proposals. He said, in October the Developer Team will be announced. Johnson said there were four original bids for the project, which was cut back to three, a couple of which are a combination of companies. The company, or team, would be in charge of the construction, management and maintenance of the bypass for the next 35 years. ODOT’s only role during the 35-year period will be snow removal.
Tree-clearing and phase one of the project will take place from October of 2014 until March of 2015. Construction is set to begin in the spring of 2015, with the bypass open for traffic in 2020. Operation and maintenance will begin in 2020 and will end and revert back to state operation is 2055.
He said some of the discussion centered around “brown signage.” That is the signage the city and Scioto County would place at the site of the Bypass project informing motorists of attractions in the city and county if they continue along U.S. 23 south and at the U.S. 52 west end of the bypass.
He said the area is eligible for several signs including one for the floodwall murals, one for Shawnee State University, one for the Scioto County Fairgrounds. He said Scioto County Engineer Craig Opperman is responsible for dealing with the signage issues with ODOT.
“I have also continued discussing working with Jason on developing methodologies for raising funds for what we are calling our ‘bypass the bypass’ project,” Johnson said. “And that, so far, is coming along fairly well.”
Johnson said he was given the final figures on the amount of traffic that will be diverted from the city by way of the bypass.
“The way it breaks down, we are down to 4,000 vehicles that will completely bypass Portsmouth,” Johnson said. “That’s what the document shows.”
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.