Congressional legislators say they're concerned that $2-million in federal funding for improvements to Cherry Valley Road could be lost.

Congressional legislators say they're concerned that $2-million in federal funding for improvements to Cherry Valley Road could be lost.

"Because ODOT (the Ohio Department of Transportation) has not released the money and since the U.S. Department of Transportation is looking at new priorities, they could take away that money because it hasn't been used," said Breann Gonzalez, spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Genoa Township).

Gonzalez said the $2-million was earmarked in the 2005 transportation bill to pay for environmental studies and preliminary engineering for the project, which would move the intersection of Cherry Valley Road at state Route 16 to the east, from the Granville village limits and into the city of Newark.

Kate Stickle, spokeswoman for ODOT, said ODOT couldn't release the funding because not enough funding has been identified to complete the project.

She compared it to building three walls of a house when there is no money for the fourth wall, a foundation or a roof.

"The needs (of the project) far exceed $2-million," she said. "It would be irresponsible for us to release money due to a lack of funding for the project."

A group called the Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) reviews state projects. TRAC reviews all new construction projects, which are divided into two categories: tier 1 programs, which have construction funding in place, and tier 2 programs, which are in some phase of development.

Stickle said the Ohio General Assembly last year realized funding was insufficient to complete all TRAC projects, so the assembly froze funding for tier 2 projects until after all tier 1 projects were finished.

"It prohibits us from advancing to tier 2 until all tier 1 projects are completed," Stickle said.

Gonzalez said that with the federal legislature looking at a new transportation bill and new needs, the money earmarked for the project in 2005 could be lost.

She said Tiberi considers it a safety issue. For others, it is seen as part of a larger road connection. The Columbus-Pittsburgh corridor steering committee, which is trying to encourage a road connecting the two cities, say there are four connections left to be completed: Moving the Cherry Valley Road and state Route 16 intersection to the east.

Connecting four lanes on state Route 16 for 10 miles from Coshocton to Dresden.

Connecting Newcomerstown to Cadiz on a new 28-mile highway.

Connecting U.S. Route 22 between Cadiz and Hopedale.

Last year, Newark and Granville officials met with members of the Columbus-Pittsburgh committee and agreed to show support for the project in an effort to get funding released, but it did not occur.