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$18M in federal funds to get U.S. Route 30 expansion under way

LISBON — The Stark County end of the U.S. Route 30 project has received a major infusion of money to help it get moving.

The U.S. Department of Transporation last week awarded an $18 million grant to help turn the two-lane section of Route 30 from Trump Road to East Canton into a freeway, a distance of three miles. The four-lane portion of Route 30 currently ends at Trump Road.

Columbiana County Engineer Bert Dawson said U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, called him last Thursday to tell him the money had been awarded through the federal Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, or BUILD, Transporation Discretionary grant program.

“I think it bodes well for us in getting improvements through Columbiana County,” he said.

The $18 million is still a long away from the estimated $85 million needed to do the three-mile section, but it is a start, he said. The money is for acquiring right-of-way, thereby pushing the project forward and making it eligible for more state and federal funding.

“It keeps the project moving,” he said.

The same week the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Transportation Review Advisory Council approved the allocation of $2 million for preliminary engineering, environmental impact studies and design work on the Stark County end of the project. The $2 million is good through June 2021.

Dawson is chairman of the Regional Transportation Improvement Project (RTIP) for Columbiana, Stark and Carroll counties. Made up of county commissioners and the county engineers from each county, RTIP applied for the BUILD grants in the past, but the third time was the charm.

The chief goal of RTIP and Columbiana County Transportation Improvement Board, which Dawson also serves on, has been to turn the remaining two-lane sections of Route 30 through Stark and Columbiana counties into a freeway, starting with the Trump Road-to-East Canton section and continuing onto state Route 11 near West Point.

The $85 million estimate for the section to state Route 44 in East Canton, as is the $784 million estimate for the remaining section from East Canton to Route 11, are both about four years old.

Dawson said they recently drove Route 30 with the new ODOT director and his staff and then took them to the county Port Authority’s industrial park in Wellsville on the Ohio River and the cracker plant being built upstream in Monaca, Pa. The purpose was to impress on state officials why turning Route 30 into a freeway is key to spurring additonal oil and gas development in the area.

“They were just amazed at what is going on. I think they were impressed,” he said. “It was important for them to see for themselves what’s going with oil and gas development in northeast Ohio.”

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