March 11, 2005

Ney earmarks highway projects

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON – The $284 billion federal highway authorization bill approved by the House Thursday includes millions of dollars earmarked for Tuscarawas County area projects.

Rep. Bob Ney, R-St. Clairsville, wrote the projects into the bill in his capacity as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which developed the legislation.

The reserved funds include $5 million to help finance the construction of an interchange at County Rd. 80 and I-77 near Dover, and $2 million for two bridges and a tunnel on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.

None of the projects is guaranteed until both houses of Congress approve final transportation legislation. The Senate has yet to pass the transportation bill.

As previously reported, Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, earmarked millions of dollars in projects for Stark County, which is part of his congressional district.

Ney’s $2 million earmark for the towpath trail will finance a pedestrian bridge over I-77 in Bolivar, an aqueduct bridge over the Tuscarawas River north of Bolivar, and a tunnel underneath a railroad south of Zoar, Ney’s office said.

Other projects being considered include:

– $4.1 million to help pay for reconstruction of Industrial Park Rd. between Rts. 9 and 22 near Cadiz in Harrison County to bring it up to state standards and make it eligible for state funding.

– $750,000 for a study examining the possible construction of a four-lane, limited access road linking Newcomerstown and Cadiz. The road ultimately would connect to Rt. 22. The project would go through Harrison, Jefferson and Tuscarawas counties.

– $100,000 to begin a feasibility study for raising the elevation of state highways in Tuscarawas County that were damaged by flooding earlier this year.

Ney pledged to make sure that the projects he wrote into the bill survive in the final legislation.

However, the bill faces an uncertain future. The Senate wants to spend even more, but President Bush has threatened a veto if the final bill is more expensive than the House version that was approved 417-9.

Lawmakers and Bush have been battling over how much money to pump into a new, six-year transportation plan. The Senate is considering a $318 billion bill despite Bush’s veto threat, meaning a House-Senate conference committee would have to work out a compromise.

The Columbus Dispatch contributed to this story.