Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Highway money sought

Communities join in asking state to help widen Bypass 4

By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - Good news for thousands of commuters using Ohio Bypass 4: There's finally some movement on improving Butler County's most congested highway.

Leaders from Fairfield Township, Hamilton, Fairfield and Butler County will meet in the next two weeks to prepare an application by May 7 for state highway funds to widen the crowded two-lane road.

"It's gridlock," says Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens. "It's the most congested highway we have in the county."

Built in the 1970s to bypass Fairfield and Hamilton, the route has become a major north-south corridor for residents in fast-growing Fairfield and Liberty townships, plus Hamilton and Fairfield.

Traffic has increased 142 percent on Bypass 4 at Princeton Road since 1986, from 6,083 to 14,715 vehicles a day, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Much more traffic will be drawn to the area when Target and Dick's Sporting Goods open in October at Bridgewater Falls shopping center at the intersection, across the bypass from Wal-Mart and Home Depot.

The most heavily traveled portion of Bypass 4 is between Tylersville Road and Hamilton-Mason Road. The 16,411 vehicles counted in August by the state was a 58 percent increase from 1985.

Wilkens and members of the Butler County Transportation Improvement District Monday agreed to gather elected officials from communities along the bypass and devise a strategy for getting the $20-million highway project moving.

The group has two immediate goals: asking Fairfield Township and Hamilton to commit Joint Economic Development District funds from a 2 percent earnings tax on Wal-Mart/Bridgewater Falls workers to help pay for the $1.2-million in engineering costs for the road work, and deciding whether to break the project into three or four segments.

Those decisions must be made by the May 7 deadline for seeking Ohio Transportation Review Advisory Council funds, said Rick Bailey, Transportation Improvement District director. The state will announce its list of funded projects in late fall, Bailey said.

The county also will seek money from the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments.

Ohio 747 progress

Widening the Ohio 747-Princeton Road intersection moved another step forward Monday, with the Butler County Transportation Improvement District board authorizing up to $560,000 be spent for three properties at the northwest corner. A fourth parcel was purchased for $125,000 in February. Construction on the $2.7-million project could begin next year if right-of-way and utility relocation work can be completed this year.


E-mail jkiesewetter@enquirer.com

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