July 20, 2024

Letter to the Editor: Merry Christmas Meigs County! $231 Million Approved to Make US 33 Four Lanes

Several semis wait for the roadway to be cleared following a fatal crash on US 33. Most traffic was rerouted. Photo by Carrie Rose. File photo.

Letter to the Editor: Merry Christmas Meigs County! $231 Million Approved to Make US 33 Four Lanes

By Perry Varnadoe

At the November meeting of the Ohio Transportation Review Advisory Council $231 million was approved to widen all of US 33 in Meigs and Athens counties to four lanes, as it was originally designed. This will help to eliminate safety concerns, expedite the growing traffic on the highway, and lead to more growth along this busy stretch of road.

The projected cost of $231 million is funded through the Connect4Ohio program, which was a part of the Ohio Budget Bill for 2024-2025. State Representative Jay Edwards championed this legislation to finish what was started many years ago….a four lane highway through Meigs County.

The design of the additional two lanes is currently underway and is scheduled to be complete a year from now. The project should go to bid in the spring of 2025, and be complete in 2028.

The need for this project goes back over 60 years. The grandparents of Meigs Countians took a wagon train to Columbus in 1964 to demonstrate the need for new highways in southeastern Ohio. After almost 40 years of citizen advocacy the Ravenswood Connector was built and opened in 2002, and the Athens to Darwin stretch of US 33 opened in 2004, both as a “Super Two Highway”, a two lane road on a four lane right of way.

In 2020 the Meigs County Commissioners, Meigs County Community Improvement Corporation, Meigs County Chamber of Commerce, County Engineer Gene Triplett, and our mayors and business leaders began the campaign again to finish US 33. With help from ODOT, Lt. Governor Husted, Rep. Edwards, and countless others, this project will become a reality before the end of this decade.

The late Steve Story, a tireless advocate for US 33 in Meigs County, often repeated the quote “there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” It took sixty years, countless meetings, perseverance, persuasion, and county leaders of several generations who fought for this highway to finally make it happen. It’s a great thing for our county, it will save lives on our roads, and it will bring more economic growth to our region. Most importantly, it’s the right thing to do, and it’s time has come.

Merry Christmas Meigs County!

Perry Varnadoe is the Meigs County Economic Development Director