Bypass expected to boom economy

By Wayne Allen

According to a recent Associated Press report, the Southern Ohio War Memorial Highway (Portsmouth Bypass) will have cost roughly $1.2 billion once all agreements have been filled. Local officials are hoping to make the most of the highway project.

Work on the new highway is anticipated to get started in June; local officials are excited for what this may bring. The Portsmouth Gateway Group LLC., has been chosen as the contractor for the project. Once the highway is opened to traffic the contractor will maintain the roadway for 35 years. At the end of the maintenance agreement the roadway will be turned over to ODOT.

Mike Crabtree, chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners, said the county is working on several projects they hope to complete in anticipation of the new highway. Projects include an expansion of the Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport and a $30 million sanitary sewer project. When talking about the overall investment of the project Crabtree said, “I don’t think Scioto County has ever seen anything like this.”

Commissioner Doug Coleman agreed with Crabtree and said the project will be a very good thing for Scioto County. Commissioner Bryan Davis said the county is anticipating a steady increase in sales tax revenue once the project gets off the ground.

“Whatever percentage of that $1.2 billion is infused into the local economy it’s a great boost,” Davis said.

It’s anticipated the contractor will hire 300 workers for the project along with 100 management staff.

“They (workers) will be buying food, staying hotels, staying at campgrounds and they are buying consumables. They are living their lives here and that’s going to be a huge boost to the local economy,” Davis said.

Davis said the commissioners are anticipating increased sales tax revenue once the project gets started. He believes the commissioners should consider using the increased sales tax revenue to invest back into the county.

Jason Kester, executive director of the Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA), also believes the project will bring some economic activity to that area of the county.

“We’ve got to do everything we can to capture on this money and keep as much of it as we can in our community,” Kester said. “The bypass is coming, if you are for it or against it, we have to do everything we can to take advantage of the opportunity it’s going to present.”

On occasion SOPA receives requests for information from various companies and investors asking if there are sites within the community that meet specific qualifications. Kester said he has been receiving an influx of requests from companies looking to locate in the Lucasville, Wheelersburg and Minford areas.

“I’ve had site selectors in, about, and around Minford, Wheelersburg and Lucasville lately. I’ve had different phone calls from people talking to me about some property in Lucasville and Minford,” Kester said. “We also have to capitalize on the attention we’re getting and try to use that to our advantage. We’re definitely getting a lot of attention, right now.”

The roadway once constructed would be a 17.3 miles, four-lane divided, limited access highway. In total the roadway will have 72 lane-miles. There will be five major interchanges with two partial interchanges. The roadway is anticipated to have an average daily traffic of up to 14,500 vehicles.

This story originally appeared in the Portsmouth Daily Times.

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