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Lawrence residents headed to Columbus to voice concerns

May. 05, 2013 @ 11:39 PM

SOUTH POINT, Ohio -- Dozens of Lawrence County, Ohio, residents will be heading to the state Capitol Thursday to talk about transportation and economic development years as the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce has done for more than 25 years.

"I think we'll have about 75 people going to Columbus for the annual Legislative Day session," said Jerry Rowe, chamber president. "It gives people in the community a chance to voice their concerns."

"We go to Columbus to partner with state legislators and officials on issues of local importance," said Bill Dingus, the chamber's executive director.

"Ohio is becoming much more business friendly," Dingus said. "Businesses can operate in Lawrence County without business taxes. Ohio doesn't have inventory taxes or personal property taxes."

The chamber trips have had an impact. The initial purpose was to get state officials to build a Chesapeake bypass in the eastern part of the county. The Ohio Department of Transportation did build about half the proposed route, and local officials will continue to push for completion of the road, Dingus said.

The biggest push on transportation issues will be safety issues at five intersections along U.S. 52, said County Engineer Doug Cade.

"We want to be able to start a dialogue on the top five intersections for traffic wrecks," Cade said. Four of the five are in the Burlington area at County Road 120, County Road 410, County Road 276 and County Road 144, he said. The other intersection is in the Sheridan area, where County Road 1 and U.S. 52 intersect.

"We're seeing a lot of rear-end accidents," Cade said. "Speed really isn't the issue. We want them to look at signal timing and other safety issues."

"We want to put together a plan to address the safety issues," said Ralph Kline, co-chair of the chamber's transportation committee who has worked with highway officials for years on transportation issues. "We think we have a good plan. We would like to implement it."

Chamber members also will get updates on the new Ironton-Russell Bridge project and the Portsmouth Bypass, Dingus said. "The Portsmouth Bypass helps with the Interstate 73 corridor project, he said. "It is about regional economy and regional expansion. It will provide a more efficient way to travel to Columbus."

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