Friday, September 21, 2001

Butler Co. pitches new Ohio 63 strategy

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Butler County officials want to build the proposed 10-mile Ohio 63 extension in two phases instead of all at once because of the project's high cost.

        But the county needs the approval of the Ohio Department of Transportation's project review board before it can proceed with the first phase.

        To help figure out how to proceed with the project, the county commissioners met Thursday in Hamilton with Ohio Sen. Scott Nein, former Ohio Senate President Stanley Aronoff, County Engineer Greg Wilkins, representatives from ODOT's district office and other local officials.

        “We are committed to doing this project,” Commissioner Mike Fox said. “But if we don't have the financing, this project will not be built.”

        Extending Ohio 63 from near Salzman Road in Monroe to U.S. 127, north of Seven Mile, would relieve traffic congestion in the growing Trenton-Monroe area and would help Miller Brewing Co. and other industries in the area. County officials believe it also would spur industrial and commercial development.

        The estimated cost is about $90 million. The state committed to providing $27.7 million when the county planned to build the whole extension at the same time.

        But doing the project in two phases will require the county to present the new plans to ODOT's project review board before it will be assured of any state money.

        County officials will present plans Oct. 12 in Columbus to the review board, which is called the Transportation Review Advisory Council. The panel will make a decision shortly after Jan. 1, ODOT officials said.

        The tentative proposal calls for the first phase to be built from U.S. 127 to Wayne-Madison Road. The state would provide $27.7 million and the local share would be $17.1 million. That would be completed in 2006.

        The second phase would involve building the road from Wayne-Madison Road to near Salzman Road. The county is proposing that the state pay $34 million, with the local share $9.6 million. It would be completed in 2008.

        To pay for the local share, the commissioners want to raise the county sales tax by a half-cent for six years and drop it a quarter-cent for four years.

        The group of officials will meet again Oct. 4 to hone the county's first-phase proposal before it's presented to ODOT's project review board.


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