Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Highway extension may not happen

Butler doesn't have the funds

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - The proposed 10-mile extension of Ohio 63, a project hampered by major money problems, may be nearing a dead end.

Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens told county commissioners Monday that he doesn't want to proceed with a $200,000 study for the $93.3 million project if it appears the road has no chance of being built. The county already has invested $2 million in the project.

"If we're not going to build the project, let's get out of it," Wilkens said.

"I'm not interested in spending any more of the taxpayers' money if there's no chance of the project happening."

The Ohio Department of Transportation has reserved $27.7 million for the project, but the county doesn't have the remaining $65.6 million needed for the extension.

It would extend Ohio 63 from Salzman Road in Monroe to U.S. 127, north of Seven Mile.

County officials say that would relieve congestion in the growing Monroe-Trenton area, stimulate economic development and serve Miller Brewing Co.'s facility and other industries in the area.

Commissioners told Wilkens to propose that the state pay for the construction of the eastern half of the extension, from Salzman Road to Wayne-Madison Road, if the county agrees to build the western half when its finances permit.

Wilkens said the state might not agree to the plan unless the county commits to building the western half by a certain date. But commissioners said they can't do that because there's no way to know when that money would be available.


E-mail skemme@enquirer.com

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