US 33 Nelsonville Bypass Groundbreaking:

Head of US Federal Highway Administration
joins Governor Strickland to launch
Ohio’s Largest Single Investment of Stimulus Funds

COLUMBUS (Tuesday, October 13, 2009) - Joined by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland officially kicked off construction on Ohio’s largest single investment of stimulus funds with the groundbreaking of Phase II and III of the U.S. Route 33 Nelsonville Bypass.

The Ohio Department of Transportation is investing up to $150 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for immediate construction of the final two phases of this new eight mile, four-lane highway, which is scheduled to be completed by June 2013.

"This is a long overdue project. Without President Obama’s stimulus and without the help of our friends in Washington – Congressmen Zack Space and Charlie Wilson – the last phase of this project would not have started until at least 2015," said Governor Strickland. "This historic investment is putting southeast Ohioans to work and opening the entire region from Columbus to Charleston."

According to estimates by the two prime contractors on this project - Kokosing Construction Company and Beaver Excavating Company - 305 direct construction jobs will be created or retained by this investment. This number does not include the significant number of indirect jobs at companies that provide construction materials and equipment, and the numerous local jobs supported by the wages of these workers.

"In the nearly eight months since President Obama signed the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, jobs are being created here in Ohio as well as across the country, and people are once again bringing home paychecks and providing for their families," Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said.

To date, ODOT and its local transportation partners have awarded construction contracts on 140 stimulus-funded projects, worth more than $418.8 million. Across the state, ODOT continues to invest, oversee and monitor more than $1.1 billion in transportation stimulus funds made available to Ohio.

"This project is a great example of how stimulus investments are putting Ohioans to work today and transforming our transportation system for generations to come," said ODOT Director Jolene M. Molitoris. "During these economic times, our connections to jobs and economic development should not be stuck in a bottleneck. The Nelsonville Bypass will open the door to future economic development and infrastructure investments along the entire corridor."

It is estimated that US 33 carries more than 1,700 trucks daily from Columbus to West Virginia, making it the eighth busiest truck route in Ohio. Most of the U.S. 33 Corridor is divided four-lane highway until it enters Nelsonville - where it currently narrows from a four lane to a two-lane local roadway.

Construction on Phase I of the Nelsonville Bypass (a $22 million non-stimulus project) was completed earlier this summer. Phase II (awarded at $45.2 million) focuses on the construction of 3.16 miles of new four-lane highway and paving of 4.56 miles of roadway, along with West Interchange Road. Phase III (awarded for $92.2 million) consists of 3.87 miles of new four-lane highway, 1.63 miles of a new State Route 78 connection to US 33, a half-mile of new connection to State Route 691, and construction of the east interchange and Hocking River Bridge.

The Nelsonville Bypass is the final upgrade of the U.S. 33 corridor in southeast Ohio.

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For more information, contact Paula Putnam, ODOT Central Office Communications, at (614) 460-9773 or David Rose, ODOT District 10 Communications, at (740) 568-3904.

NOTE TO MEDIA: Reporters can download photographs and soundbites (mp3 format) from the groundbreaking ceremony online at www.dot.state.oh.us/districts/D10/nelsonvillebypass.