Route 20 Coalition is Nothing New

The April 4, (circa 1932-34) issue of The Bellevue Gazette contained an interesting article about a plan that would move the heavy traffic away from Bellevue’s Main Street. The plan would route traffic south on Twp. Rd. 302 to Countyline Rd. around the city to a new road to be built from St. Rt. 269 east through the southern part of the Lepley farm just south of Bauer Rd. back to U.S. 20. Rail grade separation would be built to keep traffic moving along the new route.


The Gazette article once again raises the hopes of Bellevueans. It seems ODOT District 3 Deputy Director Tom O’Leary has a sincere interest in Bellevue and the problems the city has dealt with since the 1920s.


Back in those days, the main talk about town was a grade separation. Then came the tragic bus-trolley collision in a blinding snowstorm on Jan. 22, 1929 that claimed 19 lives at the triple crossing on Bauer Rd.


At that time, Monroe Street was the main thoroughfare through town. Within a year, all that changed Bellevue forever.


On Jan. 5, 1930, city workers placed barricades at the square diverting through traffic to the new cutoff road that connected East Main Street to the Monroeville Road at Bauer Road.


Bellevue had given up its Main, making East Main Street part of U.S. Route 20. In exchange, the state highway department was to provide the city with a grade separation at the Nickel Plate and Pennsylvania crossing. The project was supposed to be given top priority. However, the “subway project” wasn’t completed until October 1938.


ODOT’s Tom O’Leary suggested Bellevue would benefit from a regional approach to solve transportation issues. O’Leary said, “We all know this can be a political issue. Bellevue has 8,000 people (divided into two counties, Huron and Sandusky) that doesn’t go a long way in determining statewide elections. But if Bellevue links up with everyone between North Ridgeville to the east and Perrysburg to the west – a Route 20 corridor – then you link up all those state representatives and state senators.”


O’Leary’s suggestion worked in 1930 when a U.S. Route 20 association was organized after this article appeared in the Norwalk Reflector Herald:


“There is a movement afoot to change the course of federal Route 20 which passes through Bellevue, Monroeville, Norwalk, Townsend and Wakeman in Huron County. This move should be blocked in the interest of these local communities. To be on this heavily traveled, national highway is in many respects, like being on the railroad and the business of every one of these communities would suffer materially if such a change should be accomplished.


In addition, there is another very important factor of which we should not lose sight, and that is the federal aid in financing federal routes of this kind. The magnitude of this side of the picture can be best illustrated by a practical example. The resurfacing project between Bellevue and Monroeville which had been underway this summer (1930) is costing $112,649.57. As a result of its being a federal highway, the federal government assumed $49,482 of this burden. The state assumed the balance. What is true of this improvement is also true in similar measure of every foot of maintenance and improvement on Route 20 and it stretches clear across Huron County. If we don’t keep this road as a federal highway, we will suffer the loss of this federal aid. Furthermore, we won’t have as good a road.”


The scribe warned that it was time to get busy and the newspaper stands ready to join with the citizens of Huron County in a fight to the finish.