By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer
WEST CHESTER TWP. - The good news: state transportation officials announced Monday they have the $5.2 million to widen a congested road that bisects this fast growing community's oldest - and waning - business district.
The bad news?
The long anticipated widening of U.S. 42 in Pisgah from the Hamilton County line at Fields Ertel Road three miles northeast to the Warren County line at Butler-Warren Road won't begin for several years, probably 2008 or 2009, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.
"Better late than never," said Dr. Eric Koren, who has operated a children's dental practice off U.S. 42 for nearly 30 years.
ODOT officials need time to design the project, clear environmental hurdles and purchase right of way from several landowners, said Jay Hamilton, a traffic-planning engineer for ODOT's District 8 office in Lebanon.
The project became more of a priority to ODOT because it saw a relatively high number of accidents - 156 - for a road its size, between 1999 and 2001. U.S. 42 is difficult to navigate at rush hour and routinely backs up.
More recent figures show crashes have nearly doubled in the past year, from 82 in 2002 to 141 so far this year, according to West Chester police.
The widening should reduce crashes and make traffic flow easier, Hamilton said.
The 2008/2009 construction start date worries some business owners who are struggling to attract customers and/or tenants to empty buildings.
"It's sad because there's just nothing going on down here," Koren said. "A new anything will help."
Township leaders have pushed the state for years to widen the road and were thrilled Monday at the news. But they still plan to ask ODOT to move the project up.
A traffic light and intersection improvements are scheduled to begin in 2005 at U.S. 42 and Butler-Warren Road, Hamilton added.
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