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Published: Tuesday, 1/6/2004

State rejects U.S. 24 interchange in Defiance

DEFIANCE - A connector road will be built between West High Street and Ralston Avenue, rather than a separate interchange for West High, when U.S. 24 is widened from two lanes to four, the Ohio Department of Transportation announced yesterday.

Current and projected traffic counts did not justify an interchange at West High, and the connector road would be less expensive and require no homes to be taken, state officials said in the announcement.

The decision comes two months after a public meeting during which four alternatives for West High were discussed. Among those, officials said, the connector road and separate interchange options became clear favorites.

Defiance Mayor Bob Armstrong said city leaders had hoped the interchange option would be chosen because several growing commercial sites are nearby on West High. Local business interests also had hoped for an interchange.

“We were disappointed - it s a little bit of a setback for us,” Mr. Armstrong said.

The silver lining, he said, is that the connector road itself could become a growth area and that no residents will be displaced.

“It s probably, overall, a good decision made by ODOT,” the mayor said.

Norman Redick, ODOT s district deputy director in Lima, said the decision was made in consultation with the Federal Highway Administration. State officials will meet with city leaders during coming weeks to determine the connector road s exact route, he said.

“Our objective is to establish an alignment that will be beneficial for the property owners as well as for the overall traveling public,” Mr. Redick said.

U.S. 24 is scheduled for widening from two lanes to four between Ralston, which carries State Rts. 15 and 18, and State Rt. 424, beginning in 2006. That section is part of a broader program to convert U.S. 24 to four lanes all the way from Maumee to the outskirts of Fort Wayne, Ind.

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