Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez joined Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and other state and local officials to kick off the U.S. 33 Nelsonville Bypass Recovery Act Project in southeast Ohio. The project is the largest investment of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) dollars in Ohio to date.
“The President’s recovery plan is getting people back to work in neighborhoods across the nation, in cities large and small, and in places urban and rural,” Mendez said. “The Nelsonville Bypass is not only good for the state’s economy, it also is helping to connect communities in Ohio and West Virginia. Secretary LaHood and I know it is projects like this one that will help get the economy back on track.”
Administrator Mendez added that the U.S. 33 Bypass will pay for the second and third phases of the project, which were not set to begin until 2012 and 2015 until the infusion of funding from the Recovery Act.
The project involves the construction of a new 8.5 mi. (13.7 km), four-lane highway to divert freight traffic from U.S. 33, which bottlenecks in the town of Nelsonville, where U.S. 33 becomes a two-lane street from a four-lane highway. U.S. 33 currently carries more than 1,700 trucks per day between Columbus, Ohio and Charleston, W.Va., making it one of the busiest truck routes in Ohio.
Of the more than $26.6 billion in ARRA highway funds available nationwide, Ohio’s share is $936.4 million. As of Sept. 28, the state has funded 202 projects totaling $457 million, with 118 projects under way.
While the project was approved at $150 million, contractor bids came in below original estimates for phases one and two, bringing the cost of the project down to $138 million.