By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MIAMI TWP. - Clermont County and township officials have received word that their ambitious plans to revitalize a portion of Ohio 28 are a step closer to fruition.
Earlier this week, Ohio's Transportation Review Advisory Council announced more than $3 billion worth of statewide highway projects. Included in those projects is $10.5 million the state will use to purchase Bypass 28 from Clermont County.
In exchange, the county will take over control of a parallel, older section of Ohio 28, which officials have been calling Business 28.
The bypass opened in 1994 and cost the county $15 million. The county is still paying for it and has a debt of $10.5 million, said Clermont County Engineer Pat Manger.
Manger, who worked to get the swap approved, said Thursday that the exchange will allow the township to move forward with its plans for economic revitalization along Business 28.
"This was a win-win-win situation," he said. "The state gets a good highway. I get out from under a debt. And Business 28 gets to be improved - and the township gets to jumpstart its economic revitalization plans."
Officials want to turn the old highway into a pedestrian-friendly downtown, drawing on the old town hall designs of the 1940s and 1950s. They hope to attract more upscale shops, enticing residents to spend their money in the township, rather than in distant shopping centers. Work won't begin until after 2005.
Township Trustee Joe Uecker said Thursday that the plan was "quite a coup" for Manger, who took over as county engineer this year.
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