By Wayne Allen
Officials with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) report that contractors will officially begin to move dirt on the Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway (Portsmouth Bypass) on Monday. ODOT has also released some details on the groundbreaking.
A ground breaking ceremony will be held Wednesday, June 24, at 11 a.m., in front of Sunshine Church of Christ, 20 Barklow Road, in Minford.
“We’re going to have it there in the parking lot,” said Kathleen Fuller, ODOT District 9 spokeswoman.
Although Fuller could not confirm a guest list Thursday morning, she did say it’s anticipated a number of local, state and ODOT officials will be in attendance.
She said although the groundbreaking is Wednesday, work on the project officially begins on Monday, June 22.
“They are removing stumps and clearing some more of the right of way. Next week they will officially be turning dirt,” Fuller said. “People may not see where they will be turning dirt, because it may be tucked away. This (constructed) schedule is going to be so active.”
She said over the course of the project there will be a number of public meetings dealing with various issues such as blasting.
The 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. The highway is Ohio’s first Public, Private Partnership (P3), the successful P3 advances the completion of the project by an estimated 17 years and allows area residents to use the advantages of the highway sooner rather than later.
The contractor has anticipated hiring 300 construction workers and 100 management personnel for the project.
The current schedule for opening the road to traffic is slated for 2018.
The project is 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 United States Department of Transportation, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business in partnership with ODOT and the Portsmouth Gateway Group along with many others will be holding a small business day concerning the Portsmouth Bypass. The event will be held on June 30 at the Crowne Plaze Columbus North, from 9:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. According to released information, the event is designed to ensure small businesses are adequately prepared to compete for opportunities that may arise from the project.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT