Updated Mon, Apr 29, 2013 10:14 am
The remaining portion of the Route 33 bypass of Nelsonville will open to traffic before the end of summer, according to Steve Williams, District 10 deputy director of the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Although fall of 2013 is the previously announced completion time for the $138 million project, Williams said the remaining portion will open to traffic sooner — in July or early August — although some work will still need to be completed on the bypass.
“The critical item of work is the concrete paving,” Williams said, explaining that as the paving gets further along, ODOT will be able to set a date for opening the highway to traffic.
“It’s going to be a big, big event,” Williams said, adding that the governor will be attending a ceremony that will take place the same day the bypass opens.
Although traffic will be able to use the full bypass, Williams said some work will still need to be completed for the final tie-in at the east end of the bypass.
Last fall, the west end of the project opened to traffic ahead of schedule. Williams said Kokosing Construction still has some plantings and punch-list items to complete on that portion of the bypass.
The east end of the bypass is being built by Beaver Excavating. Williams said the final bridge deck was poured April 20.
Several months ago a billboard promoting Nelsonville was erected near the east end of the bypass. It’s being paid for by the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“We really put that in place ... in anticipation of the opening of the bypass,” said Paige Alost, executive director of the bureau. The idea is to create awareness of Nelsonville for motorists approaching the bypass, in hopes they might check out the city.
“We are very thankful to them (the bureau) for that,” said Miki Brooks, vice president of the Nelsonville Area Chamber of Commerce.
Alost said another billboard, this one promoting Athens, was placed so drivers leaving the Nelsonville area will see it. Alost said the bureau is looking into putting billboards between Logan and Nelsonville.
Brooks said the chamber also has had some discussions with a property owner west of the bypass about locating a billboard there.
Brooks said one way to bring people into town is through events.
“We’re trying to have reoccurring events that go on in the Square,” Brooks said, noting that some annual events already take place there, such as the Smoked Meat Festival.
Currently in the planning stages for June 8 is an antique/vintage market, Brooks said. It will include food and music, besides vendors selling antiques and vintage items.
Alost said having a hotel in Nelsonville would be helpful in promoting Nelsonville as a destination.