HUNTINGTON — Area residents are being asked for their opinions on the proposed construction of a bridge that, if completed, would cross the Ohio River northeast of Huntington.
The KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission will hold an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20, at its office in Huntington, located at 400 3rd Ave. Representatives will give a presentation at 6 p.m. to discuss a feasibility study that will evaluate the need for a new crossing connecting Ohio 7 and W.Va. 2.
Such a bridge would be the final step in completing the long-anticipated Tri-State Outer Belt linking Ohio, West Virginia and key segments of Interstate 64. Earlier this month, the Ohio Department of Transportation recommended $5 million in funding for the second phase of that state’s portion of the project, which would construct a 4 1/2-mile bypass connecting Chesapeake and Proctorville.
In West Virginia, the feasibility study identified three potential corridors for the location of the proposed bridge, which would be called the Huntington Outer Belt. The study evaluated the corridors’ ability to meet future traffic needs, enhance regional connectivity, support future economic development and create more pedestrian use while minimizing impacts to the community and environment.
One corridor would have a crossing near W.Va. 2 (Ohio River Road) and W.Va. 193 (Big Ben Bowen Highway). A crossing there would provide the most direct connection between W.Va. 193 and Ohio 7, according to the study. If completed, the existing W.Va. 2/W.Va. 193 intersection would be upgraded to a diamond interchange with an overpass bridge to accommodate four travel lanes. Ohio 7 would also be upgraded to four lanes.
Another corridor would have a crossing near W.Va. 2 and County Route 11 (Big Seven Mile Road). This corridor is along Cox Landing Road, extending over the Ohio River before intersecting with Ohio 7. If completed, the existing West Virginia intersection and Ohio 7 would be upgraded to four lanes.
The third corridor is located less than a mile south of County Route 7 (Nine Mile Road) along Douthat Lane, extending over the Ohio River and intersecting Ohio 7 near Private Road 1286. This corridor would feature flyover ramps for northbound traffic on Ohio 7 due to width restrictions beside the Ohio River.
The team with KYOVA will include feedback from Wednesday’s open house in a draft report to be completed in spring 2020. A final report is scheduled for June 30, 2020, and will review regional transportation needs and financial requirements to determine if the project should be carried on to the next phase.
“Should the recommendations from the Ohio River Bridge Crossing Feasibility Study advance, detailed public involvement, environmental studies, roadway alignments and bridge designs would occur,” according to the study. “The advanced phase would complete National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation and detailed design plans.”
The study was sponsored by KYOVA, Lawrence County, Ohio, Cabell County and the village of Barboursville.
To learn more about the proposed bridge and to give feedback on the project, visit ohioriverbridgecrossing.com. All feedback is due no later than Dec. 20.