Sunday, December 28, 2008

US20 In Ohio: Conneaut Viaduct to Honor Veterans

The US Route 20 Viaduct in Conneaut Ohio, a new structure built in 2004 to replace the city’s crumbling historic viaduct, will soon be dedicated to Ohio military veterans. You can find some pictures of the new and the old US 20 Viaduct here. This is actually the third viaduct built in this area, which carries US 20 over Conneaut Creek and active railroad tracks. At the time the second viaduct was built, a plaque on the old bridge lists US 20 as “Chicago-Buffalo Road.”
US 20 is currently named Main Street and Harbor Street as it goes through Conneaut.
Here is the story on the dedication from The Star Beacon:

Bridge renamed for veterans
By MARK TODD - Staff Writer Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — Early next year, the Route 20 viaduct in Conneaut will stand as a tribute to Ohio’s military veterans.

Earlier this week, members of the Ohio House of Representatives approved a bill that formally names the bridge “The Ohio Veterans Memorial Bridge.” The designation will take effect once the bill is signed by Gov. Ted Strickland, action expected within the next few weeks.

The recognition culminates months of work by two city veterans, Tom Shugerts and Paul Nelson. The pair approached then-state Rep. George Distel with the idea in 2007, he said. In September of that year, a bill sponsored by Distel was introduced into the House.

The Ohio Department of Transportation will prepare signs that will be erected at either end of the bridge, Nelson said. The signs could be unveiled during a special ceremony to be held around Memorial Day 2009, he said.

“We’ve started the planning,” said Nelson, adjutant sergeant-at-arms at American Legion Cowle Post 151 in Conneaut.

Nelson and Shugerts would also like to erect a monument to veterans at the end of the span. “It would be a nice tribute,” Nelson said.

Shugerts and Nelson have already unofficially adopted the bridge, erecting American flags and Armed Forces banners on lampposts that dot the span. The flags are installed shortly before Memorial Day and removed after Veterans Day, he said.

In a statement, State Rep. Deborah Newcomb, D-Conneaut, said the designation “is a proper and honorable way to commemorate Ohio’ servicemen and women.”

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

US20 in Ohio: Possible Widening In The Toledo Area

After writing a few weeks ago about a widening project for US Route 20 in the eastern end of Ohio in Ashtabula County , information about a prospective widening project on the western end of the state in the Toledo area was released. It sounds like the project may not be welcome by everyone. Here is the story from The Press Publications:

Top priority at TMACOG “To-do” list: Widen Route 20 through Stony Ridge
By J. Patrick Eaken Dec 18, 2008

It’s on the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Government (TMACOG)’s “to do” list — widen U.S. Route 20 through Stony Ridge to five lanes.

And, it’s a high priority — No. 5 on a list of 60 items from TMACOG’s 2007-2035 Transportation Plan Draft Project List compiled in February 2007.

“We prepare a long range that we update every four years, and it’s one of the highest priority projects that we have within our long range plan,” said Warren Henry, TMACOG vice president of transportation.

And, it’s listed in the Toledo/Northwest Ohio Transportation Coalition’s legislative agenda for 2008-2009 — widening U.S. 20 from Perrysburg to State Route 420.

The transportation coalition plans to actively pursue this improvement to the Route 20 corridor for the purpose of safety and efficiency, states the TMACOG project list report. Estimated cost would be $35 million.

Henry says studies have indicated that traffic flow is too heavy for two lanes, plus the highway serves three nearby interstates. He says it’s in ODOT’s court now.

“We’re not an implementing agency. ODOT would be the group there that would take ownership of the project, and they would schedule it and actually proceed with it,” Henry said.

“Really, it’s in ODOT’s hands now, because it’s part of the long range plan for ODOT to implement. ODOT has to have the money, and then set it up. They have a track program that they prioritize projects, so it has not risen to the point where funds are available for them to actually start the design processing.”

Henry said once ODOT takes up the project, there would be more studies, public meetings, and recommendations during the design stage.

“I have to say, candidly, its years and years away,” Henry said. “It’s on our ‘to-do’ list, and as long as it’s on our ‘to-do’ list, then they can come up with that federal money. If it’s not even on that ‘to-do’ list, then it’s not eligible for federal money in the future. So, it’s made its first initial step but it’s got a long ways to go.”

Tom Blaha, Director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission, believes that Route 20 may continue to see increases in traffic flow.

“I think part of what has exacerbated that has been since the truck tolls went up on the turnpike, a lot of the trucks get off the turnpike and use 20,” Blaha said.

Save The Old Mud Pike

Stony Ridge business owner Maxine Haas would not mind seeing 20 widened, as long as it doesn’t threaten Stony Ridge homes and businesses.

She would rather see 20 widened than rerouted north or south of Stony Ridge, because rerouting might take away business from her family’s two businesses, Pee Wee’s Dari Snak and Haas Service Station.

“They’ve discussed this for many years,” Haas said. “That’s always been rumored, but what are they going to do? We don’t know.”

One suggestion she has would be to widen to three lanes through Stony Ridge, with a turn lane in the middle.

That, she believes, would not threaten homes and businesses near the highway, and it would slow traffic down as it moves through town. That would also help improve safety at a curve on a hill near the intersection of State Route 163 and 20, which has been the site of fatal accidents.

“It (three lanes) wouldn’t take all the houses away. You have to be aware of that (curve),” Haas said. “I don’t want five lanes, because that’s what they talked about 20 years ago.”

Twenty years ago, Kathi Henry and Sally Welch were co-chairmen of S.T.O.M.P., or “Save The Old Mud Pike” Citizens Against Route 20 Expansion. Some of the questions S.T.O.M.P. raised were:

• What about the adverse affects to over 200 residences and 30 small businesses with regards to the safety of their properties and families?

• There is a probability that it would close a community library with over 1,300 local patrons. It could destroy several historic properties, including the “Empire House,” the remaining inn from the 32 that lined the Maumee and Western Reserve Road.

At that time, project costs were estimated at $25 million. The Stony Ridge residents were successful in convincing state government officials to abandon the project.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

US20 in Ohio: Road Widening in Ashtabula County

US Route 20 in northeastern Ohio’s Ashtabula County will be widened, beginning in early 2009. Here is the story from The Star Beacon:

County finalizes Route 20 widening
By STACY MILLBERG - Staff Writer Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — Saybrook Township residents are about a month away from seeing the start of construction on the Route 20 widening project.

Ashtabula County commissioners, Tuesday, approved the final resolution for the relocation of the sanitary sewer infrastructure as well as the contract with the Ohio Department of Transportation for the relocation of the sanitary sewer infrastructure.

The project consists of the improvement of .6 miles of Route 20 between North Bend Road and Woodman Avenue by widening the standard four 12-foot lanes with a curb/gutter and dedicated left turn lane where necessary as well as improve the intersection radii.

The county will pay 100 percent of the cost of relocating the sanitary sewer system as it owns the system. The cost for the county’s portion of the project is estimated at $60,760, said Commissioner Dan Claypool.

The total cost of the widening project is about $3.7 million.

The project study area is located on West Prospect Road (Route 20) and begins at the intersection of McNutt Avenue on the west and ends near the intersection of Kain Avenue, on the east, said Paula Putnam, ODOT/District 4 Public Information Officer. This section has been ranked statewide in the top 350 of the Highway Safety Program (HSP) for years 1993-1999.

The area between North Bend Road and Woodman Avenue was chosen for widening, resurfacing and drainage upgrades, because this section experiences the highest crash frequencies. This section has also received much of western Ashtabula’s commercial and retail growth over the past 20 to 30 years, Putnam said.

The project is slated to begin Jan. 14.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

US20 Hit Hard by December Ice Storm

An ice storm that came up the east coast of the U.S., starting on Thursday December 11, 2008, hit hard those that live on and around US Route 20. Trees and branches were taken down by the heavy weight of the ice, causing large-scale power outages. Here is an except of one account of the storm in Massachusetts, from an AP press release:

A winter storm pounded New England with pouring rain, sleet and ice, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands across the region, closing schools and roads and prompting Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to declare a statewide state of emergency Friday.

Georgine Sparr, the manager of Flynn's Truck Stop in Shrewsbury, said her customers in central Massachusetts complained of downed trees covered in ice and flooded roads from the storm that began Thursday and moved by late Friday morning.

She fielded dozens of calls from people who woke up in the dark and wanted to know if the Dunkin' Donuts inside the truck stop was open so they could get a warm cup of coffee.

"They got hit with everything at one time, except the snow, thank goodness," Sparr said. "The trees are frozen. Up and down Route 20, there's branches everywhere."

Here is a photo from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette showing some of the damage on one stretch of US Route 20 in Auburn MA:

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

US20 in Montana: A Brief Ride

The longest road spends the shortest time in Montana, traveling only about 10 miles in a short finger of the state that juts between Wyoming and Idaho in the southwestern portion of the state. US Route 20 heads west into Montana from Wyoming and the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park. As it goes through the town of West Yellowstone, it is known as Yellowstone Avenue, Canyon Street, and Firehole Avenue. Continuing west toward Idaho, it is known as the Targhee Pass Highway. The Targhee Pass is on the continental divide, in the Henrys Lake Mountains.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.