Approve Funding For Road at Mall

A proposal in the works for several years, to reduce traffic congestion and improve access at the Ohio Valley Mall, has much going for it: Financial commitments by local government and the private sector, improved traffic safety and the potential to spur economic development for Belmont County.

But one piece of the puzzle is missing: State funding needed to complete the project.

If undertaken, the project would involve construction of a new road linking U.S. 40 near the Ohio Valley Plaza to a road behind the Ohio Valley Mall. A bridge would be required to carry the road over Interstate 70.

Already, Belmont County commissioners have earmarked $1.9 million for the project. Ohio Valley Mall owner the Cafaro Co. has begun building a road behind the mall.

Commissioners plan to ask the state Transportation Review Advisory Council for a funding commitment to ensure the new road can be built. They will make a presentation to the TRAC sometime next month, seeking $900,000 this year and about $10 million for 2015-16.

Like many other states, Ohio faces challenges in finding enough money for roads and bridges. But in this situation, helping local government and the private sector would pay off in safety for motorists and economic development.

TRAC officials should grant commissioners’ request for funding, as soon as possible.