By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer
HAMILTON - Fixing congested Ohio 747 is at the top of Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens' $23 million "to-do" list for the year.
An estimated $7.2 million, or about one-third of Wilkins' list, will be spent on widening Ohio 747 to five lanes from Union Centre Boulevard to Tylersville Road. Ohio 747 is a major north-south artery for West Chester and Liberty township residents.
Crews began moving utility lines along the highway last fall. Construction should begin this summer, says Chris Petrocy, Butler County Engineer's Office public information officer.
Wilkens presented Butler County commissioners Monday his 2004 job list. The county will be involved with replacing 11 bridges and 38 culverts; improving four highways and two intersections; and paving 15 miles of road surfaces.
Aging bridges on Allen, Princeton, Trenton-Franklin and Stillwell roads are among the 11 structures to be replaced.
Work on the Allen Road bridge in southeastern West Chester Township, estimated at $930,000, was moved up from 2007 after structural weaknesses were found in the steel truss bridge. Allen Road businesses were inconvenienced for six months last year by the closure of the Allen Road bridge over Interstate 75.
"We know it's a hardship for them when you have to shut it down for two or three months, but safety is our No. 1 priority," Petrocy said.
Wilkens' countywide project list also includes the $3-mllion widening of Princeton Road east of Ohio 4 Bypass, near the new Target store and Bridgewater Falls shopping center in Fairfield Township, and the $2.1-million extension of Civic Center Boulevard from the Streets of West Chester retail complex to Allen Road.
The engineer has tapped federal and state funds to finance many of the projects.
"For every local dollar we're spending, we've managed to get $2 in state or federal funds," Wilkens said. "That's the only way we can keep up with the tremendous (population) growth we're having."
County money will help improve Ohio 73 at Busenbark Road in Saint Clair Township, and Ohio 748 and Layhigh Road in Ross Township.
"ODOT doesn't have a lot of money to spend on smaller jobs. It's not a high priority. They focus mostly on the interstates," Petrocy said.
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