Jeff Fryman, Archbold mayor, said village council will not push for the proposed relocation of St. Rt. 66 to Co. Rd. 24.
At the same time, Fryman said village officials will seek funding to finish the engineering for the proposed realignment of St. Rt. 66 down the current Co. Rd. 24.
Fryman said village officials are concerned that the village contract with the Ohio Department of Transportation would require the village to repay about $1.3 million in ODOT-administered federal funds if the environmental portion of the feasibility study is not completed.
He said the contract between the village, Fulton- Henry County Joint Board of Commissioners, and ODOT named the village as the lead agency on the project.
Archbold is required to complete two parts of the engineering: the engineering feasibility study and the environmental impact study.
Fryman said the engineering feasibility study has been completed, but the second part, the environmental impact study, has not.
The village received $1.3 million in ODOT Transportation Review Advisory Council money for the engineering portion of the study.
Archbold committed $200,000 toward that study, plus approximately $40,000 for a study of creating a railroad underpass or overpass.
The original $1.3 million in TRAC money has been spent, so village officials plan to apply for additional TRAC money to finish the environmental study.
Fryman said additional clarification is required if the St. Rt. 66 realignment project can be stopped now without the village having to repay the $1.3 million.
Fryman said currently, it is believed if the study stops now, village taxpayers will be “on the hook” for $1.3 mil- lion.
He added the engineering feasibility study “is about the murkiest of deals I’ve ever had to deal with.”
ODOT, he said, informed village officials they “don’t get in the middle in political decisions.
“I just wish somebody would take the bull by the horns and make a decision,” Fryman said.
The results of the engineering feasibility study, presented at a November 2016 public open house-style meeting, showed relocating St. Rt. 66 along Co. Rd. 24 from US20A to US6 in Henry County, with roundabouts at some intersections, would cost about $32 million.
Approximately $7 million was added for a highway overpass over the Norfolk Southern tracks west of the Gerald Grain elevator on present Co. Rd. 24.
That resulted in a grand total of about $39 million.
The choices to be made were “build” or “no-build.”
In June 2017, village council voted to table the project rather than vote for “no-build,” because of the question over repaying the TRAC funds.
Fryman said even if the village were to select a nobuild option, ODOT could still move forward if it believes there is sufficient benefit to building the bypass.
Still In Favor
Archbold officials originally said they did not want St. Rt. 66 relocated outside the village of Archbold.
All that was sought was reconstruction of Co. Rd. 24 to stand up to additional semi truck traffic, similar to what was done on Co. Rd. 22 years ago.
A reconstructed Co. Rd. 24 would serve factories on the west side of Archbold, including ConAgra and Bil- Jax.
But, since three entities– village of Archbold, German Township Trustees, and Fulton County Commissioners– did not have enough money to rebuild Co. Rd. 24, ODOT was approached.
ODOT, however, replied it could not fund upgrading a county road. Instead, ODOT officials proposed moving the highway.
Fryman said, “I think Archbold will continue to advocate for getting trucks around Archbold.
“But I don’t think we would ever advocate moving all traffic. If we could get Co. Rd. 24 rebuilt to Co. Rd. A, to Arrow Tru-Line, we would be satisfied.
“Even the ag community puts semis on Co. Rd. 24 to haul grain to the elevator. Semis are in and out of there all the time.”
Fryman said Archbold will continue with the St. Rt. 66 realignment study.
“We will continue to do what we’re supposed to do, until somebody gives us some relief,” he said.