UPDATE: Nelsonville Bypass Results in Fewer Crashes

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UPDATE 10/2/2014 5:00 PM

Call it the fast lane to Columbus.

The Nelsonville Bypass is 70 miles per hour and a huge project for ODOT.

Big question is, did it pay off?

ODOT says the answer is yes.

The Ohio Department of Transportation announced preliminary crash data shows an 82 percent reduction in crashes on Route 33 from a year ago.

This after the construction of the Nelsonville Bypass.

ODOT says this means there are around one hundred fewer car crashes a year

"We knew that we would see a reduction in crashes. We just obviously weren't sure what numbers would be. We can run models and run scenarios but now a year later, we have this hard data," says David Rose, with ODOT.

Before the bypass, traffic backup could add around 30 minutes for commuters.

Rose says the Nelsonville Police Department is also pleased and is seeing a reduction of 78 percent in crashes.

The police department says it has been a blessing for the area.

The bypass is up for a national award and is currently in fourth place.

To vote, click on the link to the right.

UPDATE 8/18/2014 4:40 PM

A major award for a bypass.

No, not a heart operation, but for a great drive through southeast Ohio.

The America's Transportation Awards competition named the Nelsonville bypass the best use of innovation.

ODOT says this is for using unique environmental and wildlife mitigation techniques, as the project goes straight through the Wayne National Forest.

"Helps highlight southeastern Ohio, helps put us on the map. And shows people, hey look, come down, check us out, great things are going on in southeastern Ohio and this is just one way of highlighting that then, so be it," says David Rose, ODOT spokesman.

And the awards could continue.

Since the bypass won this award, it's in the running for the national grand prize and the people's choice award.

Everyone will be able to vote online and Rose says ODOT will let everyone know via social media in September.

The winning state receives a $10,000 check, to then give the money to a transportation charity or scholarship program of its choice.

UPDATE 11/29/2013 4:40 PM

The holiday season is officially here.

But businesses in one southeast Ohio town are wondering whether their cash registers will be "jingling" as much as they have in the past

A highway bypass around the city's business district has been standing for two months.

It used to be if you drove U.S. 33 between Athens and Columbus, you had no choice but to pass through Nelsonville's business district.

Small businesses have been concerned the lack of vehicular traffic through town might mean a lack of foot traffic in their stores.

But others, even those who thrive on out-of-town customers, believe it doesn't matter at all.

"I try to get people to come in the exit that's closest to my shop, but, for the most part, it's pretty simple," says Susan Holmes, owner of Nelsonville Quilt Company.

They do think fast food restaurants and gas stations might feel the pinch, because a lot of their business comes from travelers.

The businesses we spoke to believe the bypass might be a plus because it might relieve traffic congestion through the heart of Nelsonville.

UPDATE 10/1/2013 5:20 P.M.

A huge day Nelsonville, ODOT and southeastern Ohio, as a whole has awaited, planned and talked about since 1965.

Tuesday the Nelsonville bypass officially opened, creating a faster, safer and easier trip between here and Columbus.

There was a large turn out Tuesday morning at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Nelsonville bypass.

This $160 million project dates back to 1965 when the project was proposed and Tuesday, phase one and three opened.

Phase two was opened back in October of 2012.

The project is now complete.

Tuesday morning many people spoke, including Ohio University's President, the Director of ODOT and Wayne National Forest Supervisor.

This bypass is 8.5 miles long, four lanes of highway stretching through Athens and Hocking Counties and through the Wayne National Forest.

Officials say it cuts down the trip between Columbus and Charleston by 50 miles, or around 30 minutes.

"It's going to provide an opportunity for quicker passage east and west from Columbus to Charleston," says ODOT Director Jerry Wray. "Everything about this is good, it's a day that's been long awaited."

Officials says they worked closely with Wayne National Forest, as the highway extends right through it.

There is fencing, jump outs, passage made for the animals and certain animal crosses, as well as high mast lighting for bats.

NELSONVILLE, Ohio (AP) - A new bypass years in the making officially opens.

The new section of U.S. Route 33 around the city of Nelsonville opened Tuesday.

Route 33 is heavily used by motorists traveling between Columbus and southeast Ohio and those headed to Ohio University in Athens from points all over the state. The bypass is expected to relieve traffic jams on the main two-lane road through Nelsonville.

The bypass had been discussed for decades, and construction on the $175 million project started in 2007.

It passes through Wayne National Forest. The state spent more than $10 million just on making sure wildlife in the area and the environment were protected.

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