State Route 66 plan ruffling feathers

Questioned in Archbold, Defiance County

By David J. Coehrs -

While a proposed plan to transform a section of County Road 24 into a new section of State Route 66 undergoes a slow-moving preliminary process, some grumbling about the project’s direction has surfaced within the Village of Archbold and Defiance County.

The preliminary environmental and feasibility studies approved for the project in 2014 began after several minor delays. Archbold Village Administrator Dennis Howell said studies by Tetra Tech, a global consulting and engineering firm based in Pasadena, Calif., will continue into December of 2017. The firm will present a partial report of survey and data results sometime in August.

The engineering study was approved two years ago by a joint panel of Fulton and Henry County commissioners. The study targets nine miles of County Road 24 between U.S. 20A and U.S. 6. Six of those miles are within Fulton County.

Once the studies are complete the fate of the project lies with the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Transportation Review Advisory Council and the Ohio Turnpike Commission.

Archbold residents attended the May 4 village council meeting with concerns about the proposed route’s direction. Council President Jeff Fryman said they’re worried about increased traffic in their neighborhoods and a decline in property values.

Business owners also showed up, expressing worry that under the proposed plan State Route 66 in the village would be moved one mile west, veering away from their livelihoods.

Fryman said the business owners were assured the village would maintain a separate, strictly business route, but they seemed skeptical.

“I don’t know if the businesses are convinced that taking any traffic from downtown helps them. They think it hurts them,” he said. “They all have their own emotions, and I understand those emotions.”

Originally, the village asked the state for a simple truck route for heavy vehicles between County Road A and the turnpike, Fryman said. It was state officials who expanded on the plans.

“They made the scope of the project larger than what we asked for,” he said. “All we asked for was a truck route. We are more concerned about moving trucks in and out of Archbold than them moving State Route 66.”

Defiance County Commissioners Otto Nicely, Thomas Kime, and Ryan Mack are adamant they will not permit a plan to change Domersville Road in the county into a section of the new state route.

“It’s not coming down Domersville Road as long as we’re commissioners,” Nicely said. “We’re not interested in turning Domersville into a state route.”

That move would redirect an estimated 20,000 cars currently traveling past local businesses daily and jeopardize the county’s economy, he charged.

“You’re going to hurt local business. That’s what you’re going to do,” he said.

Nicely said expanding Domersville Road into a state route also would cost the county an estimated $8 million, money it doesn’t have. He said he frankly isn’t sure how Fulton and Henry counties will deal with the expense of their portions of the project.

“We haven’t got $8 million to change it, (and) we’re not interested if we did have it,” he said.

Those behind the plan should forgot Domersville Road and steer the project toward State Route 6 instead, Nicely said.

He added that Defiance County doesn’t oppose the project as a whole, only the plans involving Domersville Road. The commissioners expressed their concern two years ago during a meeting with the Archbold Village Council and the commissioners of Fulton and Henry counties. They have not met with officials from ODOT or TRAC.

Fryman emphasized that the project is still in its early stages, and elements can change. He said in the end it will be the Fulton County and Henry County commissioners who decide what happens.

“Basically, the two boards of commissioners are the voting bodies that can vote that project up or down,” he said.

Questioned in Archbold, Defiance County

By David J. Coehrs

David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.

David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.