EAST LIVERPOOL - Some dedicated community leaders are working to expand economic growth by pushing for improvements to the local highway infrastructure.
The push is to improve U.S. Route 30 from state Route 9 to state Route 45 by creating a four-lane connection.
"As you all know, there is no easy east/west corridor," Columbiana County Engineer Bert Dawson told members of the East Liverpool Rotary Club. "We have (state) Route 11 running north and south, but we have nothing like that east and west. There is definitely a need for good highway access."
The East Liverpool Rotary Club heard a presentation about improving the U.S. Route 30 corridor in Columbiana County. Making remarks at the meeting were members of the U.S. Route 30 Committee including, from left, Larry Heck; Bert Dawson, county engineer; Charles Lang; Bob Durbin, chief deputy engineer; and Steve Cooper. (Photo by Michael D. McElwain)
The U.S. Route 30/Lincoln Highway Committee has been working for a number of years to make an improved connection that would lead from the West Point area to East Canton and then all the way to Chicago and beyond.
Charles Lang spoke to Rotary members as well, saying he is also passionate about the project. He said fellow committee members are equally enthused.
"These are people who believe our strength and our future are found in our connectiveness," Lang said.
Existing state Route 30 from state Route 11 to state Route 44
36 miles in length
49 minutes travel time
10 reduced speed zones
11 stop lights/signs
Pass through three villages
Proposed state Route 30 from state Route 11 to state Route 44
31 miles in length
At 65 mph - 29 minutes;
41 percent reduction in time
At 60 mph - 31 minutes;
37 percent reduction in time
At 55 mph - 34 minutes;
31 percent reduction in time
Dawson knows a few things about building dreams into a reality. He's been serving as Columbiana County Engineer for 41 years and has been elected 11 times.
"When I hear from trucking companies and others that an east/west connection will improve their business, then it's important for our whole region," Dawson said.
According to a Columbiana County Trucking Survey, some 21 companies were questioned about the project. The report indicates 29 percent of westbound trucks avoid Route 30 due to its condition. However, the survey indicates 48 percent of those trucks avoiding the current route would use a four-lane U.S. Route 30 connection.
The project was once on the fast track, but state funding woes and the skyrocketing costs for asphalt and other issues has slowed the project down in recent years.
Still, Dawson and the committee are still looking for solutions. One answer may be to turn a portion of the roadway into a toll road.
The county could try taking over the Columbiana County portion of the project in order to jump start the process again, Dawson noted.
The Ohio Department of Transportation's first public meeting on the project was held in August of 1993, but the committee has been around in one form or another since the late 1980s.
Dawson said the stretch of Route 30 through Columbiana County is also a safety concern.
According to an ODOT Access Ohio Report issued in 2004, it's considered to be the worst stretch of Route 30 in the state.
The existing route has multiple locations where bends and turns are excessive and cause reduced visibility of the roadway. There are also 10 reduced speed zones along that section of Route 30 and three are located within village limits and seven located within areas of poor geometry.
Business leaders Steve Cooper and Larry Heck also spoke out in support of the project.
"It's always been a bottleneck for our business," Heck said. He is the head of Parsons Coal Co. in East Liverpool.
"With the interest in the Port Authority projects in Wellsville and other places, this is a really, really, important project," Cooper said.
The new roadway would run almost parallel to the existing Route 30. One cost estimate to improve Route 30 from state Route 9 to state Route 45 was pegged at slightly more than $118.2 million.
Another meeting with state officials will happen in June, and both Lang and Dawson said they hope to stress the importance of improving the roadway.
"The more four-lane roadways we have coming into East Liverpool and Columbiana County, the better," Cooper noted.