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Route 422 — a road that leads to a new beginning for Valley

Published: Sun, January 20, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

With little fanfare, the $1 billion-plus V&M Star steel pipe-making complex in the Youngstown- Girard expanse has begun shipping out finished products. Will there be a public ceremony to give proper recognition to the owners of V&M, Vallourec, a French company headquartered outside Paris, for showing such faith and confidence in the Mahoning Valley? We certainly hope so.

However, before such a ceremony takes place, the area along U.S. Route 422 linking the cities of Youngstown and Girard should be cleaned up and beautified to complement one of the most significant private investments in this region.

To their credit, the mayors of Youngstown and Girard, Charles Sammarone and James Melfi, and their staffs are working with V&M officials to upgrade the corridor. They recognize that first impressions count. This is especially true for out-of-town visitors to the Valley.

Because Vallourec is a worldwide company with a far-reaching customer base, international business executives are becoming a common sight at the complex. There also are regular visits by Vallourec corporate bigwigs.

Much of what they see along Route 422 on their way to and from the pipe-making complex is not pleasing. Indeed, the area is a reminder of a time when steel was king in the Valley. And when not only blight but pollution were accepted as the cost of doing business.

Three decades after the major steel mills closed, the air is no longer difficult to breathe, the river is no longer a dumping ground for factory waste, and neighborhoods in the shadow of the plants are no longer covered with soot.

A new day in steel making has dawned along Route 422, as Joel Mastervich, V&M Star president and chief operating officer, pointed out to a Vindicator reporter.

“We are not your father’s mill,” Mastervich said. “It’s not even a steel mill; it’s a pipe mill, and the business we are in is not the same as it was back in the day. We are an energy business.”

A priority

But it’s his observation about the area surrounding the V&M complex that leads us to the conclusion that upgrading the Route 422 corridor is a priority.

“When people see blight, it’s a big deterrent. People come from all over, and they look around, and the impression we want them to take away is very important to the area.”

Mastervich noted that Vallourec has a sincere interest in sustainability efforts in all its plants — 51 production mills in 20 countries — and that means cleaning up industrial sites.

The company has pledged $28,500 for the beautification effort, while Youngstown and Girard will spend a total of $200,000 in grants from the the Eastgate Transportation Enhancement Program. The money originates from the federal government.

We have long complained about the entryways into the city of Youngstown being eyesores and have called on city government to work with the property owners to make the thoroughfares more presentable.

The beautification of Route 422 in the area of V&M Star would be a great start.


1papa1(711 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

the citizens of girard would love to kick in our share but unfortunately girard city council has voted against mayor melfi and decided to spend one and one half million dollars on automatic meter readers. we're a cutting edge city you see. so instead of spending the money to beautify the entrance through the city (sorely needed by the way), we'll enjoy our new toy, the automatic meter readers because some people either on purpose or by fault, can't send in the correct readings. i would love to know where mr. chuey is putting his petitions to stop this so i can hurry to get there and sign it.

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2VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Most of Rt 422 is not a desirable road to drive on in the valley. As a matter of fact, it does not become a good and safe road until you get east of New Castle or west of Rt 534!

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3DwightK(1537 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

It's not just 422, either. I-80 at the Girard exit always looks like an accident just happened and no one has bothered with the clean up. The bridge is littered with scrap metal, busted glass and plastic.

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4VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

That stretch of I-80 between Sharon, Pa. and the I-76 split is one of the worst and dangerous stretches of Interstate highway in Ohio. All the interstate traffic suddenly discovers they are in metro traffic with locals zipping in and out. Everyone still wants to do 75 to 80 mph despite trucks merging and changing lanes and local commuters trying to get to work. Compounding the mess are unusual lane exchanges such as at Rt. 62, or Rt. 11 northbound and southbound, where exit ramps are unusual and with insufficient marking, causing driver confusion and quick lane changes. How can a driver expect to be in the proper lane when he or she is on the phone and missed that one sign telling them what lane to be in?

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