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Nelsonville Bypass Finishes US 33 Upgrade
Posted on: 10/02/2013
By  Mike Cullums
 
Yesterday, one of the most long-awaited projects in Ohio history came to fruition.  
 
A modern highway connecting Columbus to Pomeroy to Interstate 77 was proposed nearly 50 years ago by a son of Appalachia, the legendary highway and college builder, Governor James A. Rhodes.
 
While more than half of the highway corridor was upgraded in the '60s and '70s, major gaps of bad road have remained.  
 
It was another son of Appalachia, Governor Ted Strickland, who, in 2009, faced down criticism from upstate when he dedicated $150 million in federal stimulus funds to the Nelsonville Bypass, to take traffic around the severely congested town of 6,000.
 
Yesterday, Governor Rhodes’s Route 33 vision was finally fulfilled.  
 
But what does it mean to the residents and business owners of Nelsonville? A number of businesses along Canal Street, now the former US 33, have relied on the thousands of motorists crawling through town.  
 
Susan Holmes owns the Nelsonville Quilt Company. In nine years in business, her staff, space and sales have doubled. ONN asked if she’s worried.
 
“I don’t think it will hurt. I hope not anyway. Check back in a year and see if we’re still here,” Holmes replied with a chuckle.  
 
Stuart Brooks, whose family owns the Rocky Brands Company and the popular Rocky Shoes and Boots Outlet, probably summed up the common feeling in Nelsonville yesterday, saying “I don’t think anybody really knows.”  
 
While the jury remains out in Nelsonville, the finished highway is a big deal for several counties in southeast Ohio and western West Virginia, as it brings the region closer to the much more vibrant economy of Columbus and central Ohio.  
 
Among other things, bypassing Nelsonville – along with the previous opening of the Lancaster Bypass – means that a trip to Columbus from Pomeroy, Belpre or Parkersburg now takes half an hour less than it did ten years ago. It also means that going from Marietta to Columbus through Athens instead of Cambridge now takes about the same time, with a lot less traffic than on I-70.  
 
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