Saturday, May 22, 1999

Fox Highway? It's up to agency

Builders ask honor for politician

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Day by day, foot by foot, it unfolds east of Hamilton like a big, gray ribbon. But for now, the Butler Regional Highway's name is much less concrete.

        While construction continues, the Transportation Improvement District (TID) awaits word on its recommendation to rename the road.

        The TID board wants to name it the Michael A. Fox Highway, after the Fairfield Township resident, county commissioner and former state representative who helped push the project.

        “ODOT will make the deci sion,” said Monica Menke-Watts, spokeswoman for the TID. “Obviously, it will either accept the recommendation or not.”

        An Ohio Department of Transportation spokeswoman says the rules could present a problem.

        Usually, an elected state official — a representative or senator — proposes such a name to ODOT. Or a local government entity makes a request, and other communities that are affected must approve the name change.

        In this case, the TID board — not a local government per se — made the request, and ODOT officials aren't sure if that's enough on which to act, said Kim Patton of ODOT's District 8 office in Lebanon.

        “They (ODOT officials) will probably give an answer in a week or so,” she said. “This is a gray area. It's not the usual process. Maybe the answer will be that the matter needs further checking.”

        Since its conception, the project had been called the Butler County Regional Highway. Its most visible impact can be seen at Ohio 4 and High Street in Hamilton, where a thick slab of concrete awaits finishing. The location is the westernmost section of the highway.

        “The project stops at that point,” Ms. Menke-Watts said. “There won't be a continuation of the widening to the west on High Street, at least by the board. It's already four lanes.”

        As of this week, she said, 63 percent of the highway has been completed.

        “We still anticipate opening in December,” she said, “if the weather holds. Crews are working all over the highway.” The highway, estimated at $92.7 million last year, will run the 11 miles between Ohio 4 in Hamilton and Interstate 75 in Union Township. It will be four lanes and provide Hamilton, the Butler County seat, with a link to the interstate.


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