Gov. Bob Taft, Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Gordon Proctor and local officials met in Lebanon, Ohio, Oct. 23 to kick off the $99 million Wilmington Bypass project to relocate State Route 73 north of the city of Wilmington.
“This bypass is a priority for residents and businesses,” said Taft. “It is a true example of state and local leaders working together to develop a project that will benefit the entire region. I am proud to say that the state of Ohio is fulfilling its commitment to southwest Ohio by awarding this project on time.”
Relocation of SR 73 is expected to reduce traffic in downtown Wilmington by more than 60 percent in the first year. Twenty percent of that traffic is commercial trucks.
According to ODOT’s Web site, “relocation will reduce accidents and improve safety, enhance a pedestrian-friendly small town atmosphere for downtown businesses and Wilmington College, relieve congestion, particularly truck traffic in and around Wilmington, reduce truck traffic and noise through residential neighborhoods, enhance interface of air/truck transportation between DHL and interstate highway movements, and support regional economic growth, particularly with DHL, while avoiding encouragement of sprawl and loss of farmland.”
The promise of completion of the Willmington Bypass in southwestern Ohio proved to be a key element in DHL’s decision to remain in Ohio. An estimated 6,000 jobs will stay in Ohio, with the possibility of an additional 900 full and part-time jobs being created. DHL employs more than 170,000 worldwide, and operates an unmatched global system of 238 gateways and more than 450 hubs, warehouses and terminals.
The $8.5 million contract for phase one has been awarded to John R. Jurgensen Company of Cincinnati. According to Dwight Stutz, vice president of State Division, work is scheduled to begin as early as Jan. 15, “depending on weather.” A more likely target date is in March, although some demolition and preparatory work will be done soon.
Phase one of the Wilmington Bypass is 1.42 mi. (2.29 km) of roadway beginning south of Airborne Road and ending at U.S. 22/3. Completion is expected in April 2008.
Phase two will run from U.S. 22/3 to Route 68, with construction to begin in 2008. Phase three will run from U.S. 68 to S 73 and is scheduled to begin in 2009. Each phase is scheduled for two construction seasons with all phases to be completed in 2010.
“This project marks the launch of a series of major investments into southwest Ohio including projects to rebuild Interstate 275, the Interstate 75 corridor and Interstate 72,” Proctor said. “Overall, Ohio will invest more than $1 billion into the region’s highway system to reduce congestion, increase safety and upgrade it to accommodate 21st century needs.” CEG