Frustrated by the glacial pace of the proposed State Route 66 realignment project, the parties involved have scheduled the second of two joint work sessions for March 12.
The sessions, the first of which was held Feb. 5, are an effort by the Village of Archbold, the German Township Trustees, and the Fulton County Commissioners to discuss possible alternatives to the realignment project, which has foundered since first being introduced in 2004.
Archbold Administrator Donna Dettling said the County Road 24/State Route 66 project is not off the table, but a stalemate between the parties has led to the discussion of alternatives. Following the results of a feasibility study conducted in November, the county commissioners and township trustees expressed dissatisfaction with the realignment options.
“It’s gotten super political with how much it’s going to be and who’s going to pay for it,” Dettling said. She said alternatives have to be considered “because the issues haven’t gone away, and they’re only going to get worse, so we have to come up with other solutions. The trustees and the commissioners don’t support the realignment, so the village was standing there by itself with this project.”
Under those circumstances, the parties are reconsidering improvements the Ohio Department of Transportation suggested for County Road 24 over a decade ago. Archbold’s village engineer has been asked to update the finances for those improvements to current standards.
The village council must vote for or against the realignment project by May 1, the deadline to send a final decision to ODOT.
“I have no idea which way the vote’s going to go,” Dettling said. “There’s always been an acknowledgement that something needs to be done, but what that acknowledgement is – I don’t know where we’re going to land. We’re trying to build consensus about what the right next thing to do is, and we’re not there yet. Those things aren’t easy to resolve.”
The realignment of of State Route 66 to County Road 24 from State Route 6 to U.S. 20 was originally proposed as a way to better manage truck traffic through the village and give trucks access to the industrial park. Dettling said the road was not designed as a truck route, “and it’s falling apart under the trucks. There’s an issue with capacity out there.”
The county commissioners sent a letter to ODOT last May voicing their opposition to the realignment project. “Based on the cost of the project and the public input, we determined as commissioners we didn’t want to go ahead,” Commissioner Jeff Rupp said.
The work session in March is meant to reach a happy median, he said. “What Archbold is trying to do is find a way to move the truck traffic out of downtown Archbold…by doing improvements to County Road 24. I think this meeting is to try to find common ground. We just want continued discussion on the project.”
German Township Trustee Joe Short added, ”We are working on alternatives to the realignment of the County Road 24/State Route 66 project. We are committed to trying to find a solution.”
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.
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