Belmont County officials will go to Akron next month to convince the Ohio Transportation Review Advisory Council that the Mall Road interchange project is a smart investment.
Members of the Belmont County Transportation Improvement District, county commissioners and representatives of the city of St. Clairsville and Richland Township will make the case TRAC funds available through the state of Ohio should go toward construction of the National Road/Mall Road project. The entire project would connect National Road with Mall Road behind the Ohio Valley Mall and Ohio Valley Plaza, and involve construction of a bridge over Interstate 70 by the Ohio Department of Transportation.
The Transportation Review Advisory Council assists in developing a project selection process for ODOT's largest investments, and helps to determine which projects are most worthy of funding.
The application to be submitted by Belmont County officials asks for $900,000 for this year in TRAC funds, and about $10 million for 2015-2016.
Belmont County commissioners already have in place the $1.9 million needed for their section of the project - a road starting at National Road near the St. Clairsville city limit, extending west behind Sam's Club at the Ohio Valley Plaza and turning south to wind behind the Lowe's Home Improvement store.
It is there the road would connect to ODOT's planned bridge project over Interstate 70. On the north side of the highway, the Cafaro Co., owners of the Ohio Valley Mall, are building a road behind the mall facility to accommodate expected development. ODOT would then extend the road on to Mall Road.
Belmont County Commissioner Matt Coffland said the county is seeking a firm to do land acquisitions and negotiate the price for property needed for the project. He expects as many as three landowners could be involved.
"We will be telling the board where we are on the project, why we need funding, and why it's a good project," Coffland said. "We'll talk about how it's good for economic reasons, traffic safety and development.