New agency created to pursue funding for U.S. Route 30 project hits the road running

LISBON – The new county agency created to seek funding for the U.S. Route 30 project wasted little time getting started.

The transportation improvement district (TID) helds its first meeting on Friday to adopt bylaws, elect officers, retain legal services, establish a meeting schedule and make Route 30 its first project.

The meeting occurred nine days after Columbiana County commissioners voted to create the TID as a way to expand the county’s chances of accessing state and federal money for local transportation projects.

The Ohio Department of Transportation provides funding specifically for TIDs, and the county’s TID is eligible to seek $250,000 for a specific project from the $3.5 million allocation ODOT set aside for this year. The deadline for seeking this year’s $250,000 is May 30, which is why the TID committee moved quickly.

As expected, the committee designated Route 30 as its initial project. The 50-year-old goal has been to convert Route 30 into a freeway across the county. The resolution adopted by the committee calls for bypasses around Hanoverton and Lisbon before reaching state Route 11 at West Point.

The committee consists of county Commissioner Jim Hoppel, county Engineer Bert Dawson, county Development Director Tad Herold, county Port Authority member Penny Traina, and John Ross, a Homeworth resident who serves on the Route 30 Energy Corridor Committee pushing for the project.

The committee also approved the following resolutions:

– Adopted bylaws used by other TIDs in Ohio.

– Named Ross chairman, Traina vice chairman and Dawson secretary/treasurer.

– Established a meeting schedule of 8 a.m. the second Tuesday of each month, with the next meeting to be held June 10.

– Open bank accounts and obtain liability insurance.

– Retained the legal services of Richard (Rusty) Schuermann Jr. of the law firm of Kegler Brown & Ritter. Commissioners previously hired the Columbus law firm for up to $11,750 to help establish the TID.

Dawson said the committe might use the $250,000 in TID money to help pay for some of the project’s design work, which would be in addition to the $500,000 in ODOT funds received earlier this year for the same purpose. He said they could also choose to use the $250,000 as matching funds to qualify for other transportation money that is available.

The group is excited because they believe turning Route 30 into an east-west freeway will open the county up to development, especially the middle section, that is expected to result from the oil and gas drilling boom under way in the region.

“It’s exciting to know we’re actually moving forward,” Traina said.