Bob Seaman, Archbold village engineer, told Archbold Village Council the Ohio Department of Transportation is reviewing a proposal by an engineering firm for work on the proposed realignment of St. Rt. 66 to Co. Rd. 24.
A committee made up of Seaman; Frank Onweller, Fulton County engineer; and Tim Schumm, Henry County engineer, selected Tetra Tech, a national engineering firm with an office in Toledo, about a year ago.
In a later interview, Seaman said a “scoping meet- ing,” during which the scope or limits of the work Tetra Tech would do, was held last month. Attending the meeting were officials from Archbold, Tetra Tech, and ODOT.
Currently, Seaman said ODOT is reviewing the Tetra Tech proposal for completeness. ODOT officials should provide their comments on the proposal to Seaman by the end of the week.
It will then be up to Archbold Village Council to decide whether to proceed with the study, as Archbold is the lead entity of the St. Rt. 66- Co. Rd. 24 project, Seaman said.
The Preliminary Study
The preliminary engineering study will look at the proposed route of the state highways, including conditions of the current road, bridges along the route, and other factors.
It will also include an environmental impact study, covering things such as possible endangered species and wetlands along the route, and a look at potential archeological sites.
The preliminary study should take a year to 18 months.
When completed, Seaman said engineers will be ready to develop a detailed construction cost estimate and start the final design.
The preliminary study is estimated to cost $1.5 million. ODOT has allocated $1.3 million to cover the cost of the preliminary study, while the village has earmarked $200,000.
Seaman emphasized the decision council will soon face is only for the preliminary engineering.
It will not be a final goahead for design engineering or the overall project.
The idea of rerouting St. Rt. 66 along the current Co. Rd. 24 alignment has been discussed for years, but only began to gain traction after John Kasich, Ohio governor, announced a plan in December 2013 to sell $1.5 billion in bonds to be repaid from Ohio Turnpike toll revenue.
Money from the bonds is allocated for road projects off the turnpike, like the realignment of St. Rt. 66.
The current plan calls for St. Rt. 66 to follow the present Co. Rd. 24 from US 20A south of the Archbold-Fayette turnpike interchange to US 6 in Henry County.
Defiance County officials chose not to participate, because the highway would pass the Tinora school buildings.
St. Rt. 2 also would be rerouted from the St. Rt. 66-Co. Rd. E intersection north of the village, west to the present Co Rd. 24, then south along Co. Rd. 24 to St. Rt. 2 on the west side of Archbold.
The project has gained opposition from several groups.
Some Archbold business owners oppose the project because they fear moving highway traffic outside the village will take away motorists who would normally stop and shop in local stores and restaurants and harm their businesses.
Members of the agricultural community fear high-speed highway traffic would make it more dangerous for farmers to move their equipment to and from their fields.
They also say it would make it more dangerous to haul harvested grain to the Gerald Grain elevator located on Co. Rd. 24.
A study funded by the village of Archbold and conducted by the Bowling Green State University Center for Regional Development, estimated that some jobs would be lost, but overall, there would be a net gain of about 14 jobs if the highways are rerouted.–David Pugh