0709_Chesapeakebypass_05

The original Chesapeake Bypass ends abruptly at a spot just north of the Robert C. Byrd Bridge.

CHESAPEAKE, Ohio — The second phase of the long-anticipated Chesapeake Bypass, also called the Tri-State Outer Belt, got a shot in the arm Tuesday as the Transportation Advisory Review Committee recommended $5 million in funding from the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The 4 1/2-mile bypass project connecting Chesapeake and Proctorville will receive $1.5 million in 2020 and $3.5 million in 2021, according to Rachel Ehresman, legislative aide in the office of state Rep. Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill.

The money is being set aside for engineering and land acquisition, said Matt McGinnis, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation District 9 Office.

“This is a positive move forward,” said Stephens. “This is an important project. Hopefully, we can keep progressing. I am thankful to TRAC for keeping the project alive.”

A former Lawrence County commissioner and auditor for about 20 years, Stephens has been pushing for the project for several decades. He was named to replace state Rep. Ryan Smith, who resigned earlier this year to become president of Rio Grande University and Rio Grande Community College.

“This is a project that has been around for decades,” Stephens said. “Five million is a lot of money. I understand the funds will be used for engineering and real estate acquisition. This along with the Merritts Creek bridge will create a Tri-State Outer Belt.”

The KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission could be talking about the bridge project during a Nov. 20 meeting, Stephens said.

The commission oversees road projects in Ohio. The Ohio Department of Transportation already has purchased more than a dozen parcels for the second phase of the bypass project. The first phase of the bypass was opened to the public in 2005.

It could cost $110 million or more to build the limited-access two-lane road to connect Chesapeake and Proctorville and link up with the initial phase of the bypass from the 31st Bridge east to near Fairland East Elementary School.

It could take $7 million or more to buy the remaining property needed for the second phase of the bypass, officials said several years ago.

West Virginia is looking into a bridge between Ohio and West Virginia near Merritts Creek. That and the bypass are the remaining parcels to form a Tri-State Outer Belt.

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