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Road plans to fuel growth

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Belmont County has several projects on its plate and the board of commissioners anticipates growth to come.

The commissioners awarded a road reconstruction bid for Belmont County Roads 80 and 84, or Pogue Road and Oakview Road and Executive Drive, to Shelly & Sands for $1,106,522.90.

Commissioner J.P. Dutton noted the other two bidders were Cast & Baker, with $1,158,036.32 and NLS Paving, with a lower bid of $1,038,982.71, however Dutton said that bid was incomplete.

“As a member of the Transportation Improvement District, I’m glad to see that we’re moving forward on the project to upgrade the road to the Fox (Commerce) Industrial Park,” he said, adding the goal was to provide a “much needed” upgrade of the road from U.S. 40 to the industrial park. “It’s an economic development focused grant. That’s why this road has been selected, because it leads to the industrial park. We think it’s going to be a great help to that area.”

Dutton said that the state is contributing about 40% of the funding.

Work should begin later in summer and the commissioners hope the project will be done before the Belmont County Fair, which is usually held in September.

The commissioners also approved a change order for the ongoing paving and bridge deck work on Glen Runs Road for an additional $25,152.20 and a new contract total of $780,652.20. This project is also 40% funded by the state.

“Those are two projects where we’re utilizing funds from the general fund to contribute to grant dollars coming in from the State of Ohio. These are funds outside the engineer’s office. We contributed because we felt it was important to match funding that was coming from outside the county,” Dutton said.

The county is also in the midst of upgrading the water and wastewater systems, with work ongoing at the plant along the Ohio River near Bellaire. The upgrades are funded in part by grants and loans from the United States Department of Agriculture, and through planned water and sewer rate increases.

“We’ve identified projects going back 10, 15 years. We’re taking a good hard look at what needs to be done to push the system forward,” Dutton said.

Another large-scale project on the horizon is an expansion of the county jail. In the past, the 144-bed facility has suffered severe overcrowding leading to the added expense of housing Belmont County inmates at other county jails. There are currently 147 inmates according to the jail website.

“We’re kind of on hold right now, just because jail populations since the pandemic have lessened to a certain extent, and I think also we are just trying to gage future economic activity and see what the size of that expansion should be.”

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