NELSONVILLE - The new Route 33 bypass around Nelsonville will have a 70 miles-per-hour speed limit, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.
NELSONVILLE — The new Route 33 bypass around Nelsonville will have a 70 miles-per-hour speed limit, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.
The final section of the bypass will be opened to traffic Tuesday by ODOT, which on Friday announced plans for a ceremony that will be held that day.
ODOT is increasing speed limits on 607 miles of highway as the result of new legislation that becomes effective Sunday, Sept. 29. The section of Route 33 from Nelsonville to just west of Logan, which is currently posted at 65 miles per hour, will increase to 70.
The portion of the Nelsonville bypass that is already open is now posted at 65, and it also will go to 70, along with the section that will open Tuesday, according to ODOT spokesman David Rose.
Route 33 from Nelsonville through Athens will remain 55, and remaining at 60 miles per hour will be Route 33 south of Athens and Route 50 both east and west of Athens.
Rose said those are staying at their current speed limits because of their at-grade intersections.
The legislation that goes into effect Sunday increases speeds on rural divided highways to 60 miles per hour, on rural expressways without traffic control signals to 65 miles per hour and on rural freeways to 70 miles per hour.
"Raising speed limits is not something the state takes lightly," ODOT Director Jerry Wray said in a news release. "We put much time and consideration into identifying roadways where speed limits could increase while maintaining a safe commute for Ohio motorists."
ODOT will produce 1,100 new highway signs at a cost of $114,845. Most of the signs are expected to be installed by Oct. 4, according to the news release.
Meanwhile, highway officials announced Friday that the official opening ceremony for the Nelsonville bypass will be Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. It will be held at the new Route 78/691 interchange and is open to the public. People wishing to attend the ceremony can access the area via the new Route 691 access road off old Route 33 southeast of Nelsonville.
The scheduled speakers are Wray; Anne Carey, forest supervisor for the Wayne National Forest; G. Kenner Bush, former publisher of The Athens Messenger who served on the Highway Users Committee (an advocacy group for Southeastern Ohio highways) and on the state's Transportation Review Advisory Council; ODOT District 10 Deputy Director Steve Williams and Ohio University President Roderick McDavis.
Once the opening ceremony is complete, ODOT hopes to have the new westbound lanes of Route 33 open by noon. The new eastbound lanes should be opened by 3 p.m., according to ODOT. Traffic on the new Route 33 will be down to a two-lane roadway at the Elm Rock Road overpass southeast of Nelsonville while construction crews complete the final transition away from the old roadway.