By Wayne Allen
The Ohio Department Of Transportation (ODOT), in corporation with the Portsmouth Gateway Group, held an open house on Friday to provide an update on the construction of the Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway, State Route 823.
Once constructed, the highway will reduce a trip that currently takes 26 miles to complete by avoiding 30 traffic signals, 80 intersections and 500 driveways.
To construct the highway, ODOT hired the Portsmouth Gateway Group as the project developer to complete the State’s first Public, Private, Partnership (P3) project.
Within the P3 agreement, the Portsmouth Gateway Group agreed to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the highway.
A part of the agreement with ODOT, the Portsmouth Gateway Group earns a fixed price availability payment over 35 years while they operate and maintain the highway, rather than implementing tolls on the roadway.
By achieving P3, the construction timetable of the project was accelerated by 17 years and will be completed all at once, rather than three phases and subject to the availability of funding.
When complete, the Portsmouth Gateway Group will maintain the highway for 35 years, before turning operation and maintenance responsibilities over to ODOT. ODOT will perform snow plowing and emergency and incident response on the highway once opened to traffic.
The overall cost of the highway is estimated to be $1.2 billion, with $429 million in construction costs.
To make room for the highway, an estimated 20 million cubic yards of dirt will need to excavated. It’s estimated that 95 percent of what needs to be excavated is rock. A blasting firm has been hired to help blast through the rock; blasting operations have been ongoing for several weeks.
Once constructed, the highway will also bypass 26 miles of US 23 and US 52, it will have five interchanges, 21 bridges and 80 culverts.
A Facebook and Instagram account has been setup, for those interested in following the construction of the highway. Find them on Facebook at Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway and on Instagram @PGG823.
Information about the project can also be found at www.PGG823.com.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT