Friday, March 09, 2001

Road price goes up $33M

Butler dismayed by new estimate: $80 million

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — To further prime development in Butler County, officials would like to realign, widen and extend Ohio 63. The problem: It will cost $33 million more than previously estimated, county commissioners were told Thursday.

        “Right now we want it to happen, but we're a little shocked, a little stunned. This is the ultimate sticker shock. The car looked real good in the showroom, but this is a very sobering report,” Butler County Commission President Michael A. Fox said Thursday, after Engineer Greg Wilkens revealed the project would cost about $80 million. The former engineer, Dean Foster, had estimated $47 million.

        State officials had already approved the project and pledged to pay for most of it; commissioners had promised to pitch in $9 million.

        “We've got to make sure we can afford this before we start the ball really rolling,” said Commissioner Chuck Furmon. “But we want it done because it's important to Butler County.”

        The improvements are important to a number of surrounding communities and dovetail with Ohio 63 improvements that Warren County plans, Mr. Fox said.

        The project would begin at the Interstate 75 interchange in Warren County and connect to U.S. 127 near Seven Mile, north of Hamilton, Mr. Fox said.

        Government officials and business leaders in communities affected by the project will be asked for their ideas on raising the necessary funds, Mr. Fox said.

        Three off-the-cuff possibilities: a toll bridge over the Great Miami River, implementing the project in phases, and seeking substantial contributions from businesses and governments.

        Among the affected areas: the cities of Trenton and Middletown; Lemon and St. Clair townships; and the villages of Monroe, New Miami and Seven Mile.


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