Bypass on national economic radar

By Wayne Allen

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A new report released from Dodge Data and Analytics shows the state of construction on the Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway played a factor in national economic data.

According to the website, Dodge Data and Analytics is the leading provider of data, analytics, news and intelligence serving the North American constriction industry. The company released data Friday reflecting new construction starts in July. The report indicates there were $629.4 billion in new construction starts, exploring various parts of the construction industry including, nonresidential building, residential building and non-building construction.

“Non-building construction in July dropped nine percent to $146.9 billion. The decline came as the result of diminished activity from most of the public works categories, which fell 13 percent as a group. Highway and bridge construction retreated 19 percent in July, making it three out of the past four months that weaker activity has been reported,” the report states.

The report goes on to name several new highway projects that got underway in July. Projects include starts on the $429 million Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway in Portsmouth, $264 million Belt Shore Parkway Mill Basin Bridge replacement in Brooklyn, New York and the $187 million Interstate 85 widening and reconstruction in North Carolina.

Once all costs are factored into construction, and long-term maintenance of the Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway, the roadway will cost the state an estimated $1.2 billion.

Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has entered into an agreement with the Portsmouth Gateway Group LLC, to construct the highway. Once construction is complete the group will maintain the roadway for 35 years.

The Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway is considered to be Ohio’s largest road construction project — a 16-mile, limited access, four-lane highway that will bypass about 26 miles of U.S. 52 and U.S. 23 in Portsmouth. Once completed, ODOT estimates it will reduce travel time by 16 minutes compared to the alternative routes in the area. The target completion date is December 2018.

Jason Kester, executive director of the Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA) said the report not only shows the significance the project to the region but to the country. Kester said SOPA and other organizations are working to inform local businesses on contractor opportunities associated with the project.

“I think the big thing, right now with the bypass, is getting all of our local businesses linked up to their (Portsmouth Gateway Group) website,” Kester said. “We need to get our local contractors to see if they qualify for any of the jobs. The most important thing is getting our local contractors linked up with those opportunities, so we can capitalize on the money that’s coming into the community.”

Kester said the Portsmouth Gateway Group does not hire individuals, but hire firms that provide certain services.

“There are a bunch of opportunities still available, they are looking for contractors for trucking, asphalt paving, demolition, communications and various others,” Kester said. “If local businesses can go on there and take a look and see if they fit.”

For more information about available contractor opportunities, visit

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT