Another bypass story. You might recall my visit in Virginia with the Route 50 Corridor Coalition, and their successful efforts to block a proposed road widening and bypass.
Nelsonville, Ohio, is a small city of just over 5,000 in Athens County. It's bisected by U.S. 33, a major arterial, heading southeast out of Columbus. That's brought a steady flow of heavy truck traffic through the city.
There's a general consensus that a long planned 9 mile bypass of Nelsonville is essential. On some days, it can take as long as half an hour to navigate a three-mile long bottleneck on U.S. 33 in the center of town. Construction of the bypass has finally gotten underway. See photo of clearing work near northern end of the bypass.
I had breakfast with Leeanna Potts (left in photo) and Linda Watkins (middle), who serve on the Nelsonville Planning Commission, and Mark Hall (right), the soon-to-retire City Manager. While they agreed on the importance of the bypass, they expressed concern about Nelsonville's downtown -- which has become a hub for area artists and crafts stores -- becoming invisible to motorists.
They've been trying to get the Ohio Dept. of Transportation to put in good signage so that people driving along U.S. 33 will consider pulling off (U.S. 33 is a major arterial heading southeast out of Columbus -- with a growing amount of truck traffic, one big reason the city now supports construction of the bypass). The design & signage for the two "gateways" off U.S. 33 into the city will be especially important.
And there's much for visitors to see and enjoy in Nelsonville. The dramatic "starbrick" that originates in the area is incorporated into buildings and sidewalks, too. Hopefully, only the heavy-duty, in-a-rush, through traffic will bypass Nelsonville, not people who would enjoy seeing a fascinating, historic small town.