Friday, January 18, 2002

Bypass plans shelved

Lebanon project gets second look

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — The city's plans to get started on a bypass this year have been shelved while Warren County examines how such a project would fit into the bigger transportation picture.

        City Council's 2002 budget calls for $1.4 million for easements and other preliminary work. The council majority that backed that budget, however, was ousted in the November election, and the new council indicated this week that the spending would be cut.

        That was welcome news Thursday to County Engineer Neil Tunison, who plans to look at whether and where a bypass should be built as part of a traffic study in the county's mid-section.

        “We're only going to get one shot at getting federal money if that's the way we decide to go,” Mr. Tunison said. “We have to be very clear as a region what we want.”

        Lebanon's plan for a southern bypass — the specific location of which the city had not decided — might not fit in with what neighboring communities want, Mr. Tunison said.

        The traffic study, which the engineer's office plans to launch this winter, will take at least 18 months.

        “We should regroup and work with them,” said Lebanon Councilman James Reinhard, finance committee chairman.

        However, Councilman Ben Cole said he fears the city will lose out on government funding if it doesn't keep the project moving forward.

        “I don't see anything happening with the bypass for five to 10 years,” Mr. Cole said.

        Lebanon wants a bypass to reduce truck traffic through its historic downtown area — a problem that Main Street residents have repeatedly sought to resolve. The bypass has been under discussion for years — as has the possibility of an Interstate 71-to-75 connector in Warren County.


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