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Negotiations for easements between the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and property owners is set to begin for the South Court Street Connector project in Circleville, Ohio. If ODOT and the property owners do not agree upon a purchase price, eminent domain could be used to obtain the needed easements.

The proposed connector project will provide easier access to businesses located west of U.S. Route 23. The connector will provide direct access from South Court Street to the area just south of Taco Bell in front of Rural King and Peebles.

“We think this is going to be a corridor of strong economic development for the city of Circleville,” said Circleville Mayor Don McIlroy. “Right now ODOT had indicated there are 35,000 cars a day that travel on 23 and in five years they are projecting there will be 50,000 cars. We want to take advantage of that and use it for economic development.

Public safety in the area is a concern for the city, said the mayor, citing a tragedy that occurred last month when a man was killed while trying to cross Route 23 on his way to work.

“Even though we’re moving the light 300 feet to the south, that’s 300 more feet of stopping space. Quite frankly, five more feet of stopping space is good, but this is going to be 300 feet. We think that they will have more chance to slow those vehicles down coming off that hill,” said McIlroy.

John Ankrom, city service director, explained that obtaining easements was the next step of the connector project. He believed the right-of-way process would take about 10 months and should be finished by April 2015. “If we get the right-of-way acquired sooner, it’s possible in late 2015 we could be turning some dirt,” he said.

The projected cost of the project is $3 million. ODOT has presented the city with a grant of $1.44 million toward the cost. Ankrom said that the city would pursue additional grants.

If you are a property owner who may be affected by this or any other government project, you have rights. Contact the Ohio eminent domain lawyers at Clark, Perdue & List.