Kevin Sauder, president of the Archbold Area Chamber of Commerce, said the possibility of a Co. Rd. 24 truck bypass is worth studying.
County and village officials are pursuing Ohio turnpike bond money to upgrade Co. Rd. 24 from US 6 to US20A.
There is a possibility Co. Rd. 24 could become a new portion of St. Rt. 66.
Frank Onweller, Fulton County engineer, and Bob Seaman, Archbold village engineer, said it would take about $14.7 million to get the job done.
The application for turnpike money was filed with the Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) of the Ohio Department of Transportation on the deadline day, Friday, May 3.
There have been rumors within the community that owners of some local businesses were concerned that rerouting traffic away from the village could have a negative impact on their businesses.
“We just don’t know if a Co. Rd. 24 truck bypass would negatively affect downtown business, but it is worth studying the issue,” Sauder said.
“I think from a school zone safety perspective and a downtown truck traffic congestion perspective, a Co. Rd. 24 truck bypass alternative makes sense.
“The Co. Rd. 22 truck bypass successfully rerouted Sauder trucks away from downtown Archbold without hurting retail business.
“A Co. Rd. 24 truck bypass could safely reroute ConAgra and Archbold Industrial Park trucks away from downtown Archbold.”
Moving trucks, especially semis, out of downtown would go a long way in resolving a persistent concern over trucks attempting to turn at the North Defiance Street-Stryker Street intersection.
Semis have often struck posts installed at the intersection to protect decorative traffic signal poles, lighted bollards, and buildings.
Julie Brink, director of the Archbold Area Chamber of Commerce, said she took an informal, unscientific survey of businesses along Defiance Street (St. Rt. 66) and Stryker Street.
The survey was announced in the Tuesday April 30 edition of the chamber newsletter, Chamber Chat.
However, Brink said later she acted independently, not consulting the chamber board prior to announcing the survey.
Chamber officials refused to release survey results to the Archbold Buckeye.
Seaman said, originally, the County Engineers Association of Ohio was collecting a list of projects seeking money from Ohio turnpike bonds for work in counties the turnpike went through, or were adjacent to.
But, Seaman said, Onweller was told things had changed.
Projects were to be submitted to TRAC by the May 3 deadline, which left about two weeks to complete the application.
Onweller said he and Seaman decided to work together.
The county office provided cost estimates from previous studies, while the Village of Archbold engineering department completed and submitted the application form.
Seaman said the instructions for filling out the online application were 35 pages; the application was 20 pages.
The joint effort “was very smooth,” Onweller said.
Onweller said the proposal submitted to TRAC would “basically bring Rd. 24 from US20A to St. Rt. 6 up to state standards.”
Pavement would be 24 feet wide, with four feet of paved berms on each side. In some areas it will represent widening of the road.
In other places, the road is already 24 feet wide.
Onweller said the current pavement on Co. Rd. 24 can handle 80,000-pound trucks, the heaviest legal truck (without special permits) in Ohio.
However, the new pavement will be stronger and thicker, to handle a larger number of big trucks.
“If St. Rt. 66 is relocated to Co. Rd. 24, the number of trucks with heavy loads will increase,” Onweller said.
Steve Faulkner, ODOT press secretary, said usually it takes about a year for TRAC to approve a project for construction.
TRAC reviews a project by assigning it a score. Once scored, TRAC decides whether or not it should move forward.
Projects should come to TRAC “shovel ready,” with design, preliminary engineering, and environmental impact statements completed.
Faulkner said TRAC should have a “draft of a draft list” of projects ready this summer. After a comment and review period, the final list should be ready, possibly by September.
Once the final list is approved, it goes to the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission for approval.
“We should have some kind of a list by this summer,” Faulkner said.