By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The Madison County commissioners want to facilitate further economic development along U.S. Route 42 near the I-70 interchange.
Last year, they initiated a project that will enhance water service to the area. Last week, they revived long-stalled discussions about the possibility of widening Route 42 to four lanes between routes 29 and 40.
State Rep. Bob Hackett, a London resident, called for a meeting on Jan. 6 among the commissioners, Madison County Engineer David Brand and representatives of the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Dirk Gross, chief transportation engineer for ODOT’s District 6, provided some background. He said that ODOT conducted a safety study in 2002, focusing on the stretch of Route 42 between the Speedway station to the south of I-70 and the Pilot station to the north of I-70. Heavy truck traffic and misaligned driveways to businesses led to the recommendation to widen Route 42 and improve business access.
“Plans got started but there were snags due to property issues,” Gross said.
The difficulties included finding ways to work around gas pumps positioned close to the road and minimizing the impact on traffic flow at business sites.
“The cost of the project got to be prohibitive, so we scaled back to just the work at the bridge,” Gross said, referring to repair work completed a few years ago on Route 42 where it crosses over I-70.
At the time, the estimated cost of the whole project was $13.5 million. The bridge portion cost $2.5 million.
While funding remains a major hurdle, County Commissioner David Dhume said the county wants to reopen discussions about widening Route 42—not just between the Speedway and Pilot stations to address safety issues, but from Route 40 to Route 29 to also facilitate new economic development.
“The future is going to come. We know the area will be developed. We need traffic to flow better,” he said.
Ferzan Ahmed, deputy director for ODOT District 6, said ODOT is open to restarting the process. He said it should begin with a brainstorming session that involves as many stakeholders as possible, including property owners. Dhume and Commissioner Mark Forrest also recommended that township trustees and village officials from West Jefferson take part.
Gross noted that some of the preliminary legwork is already done, referring to the 2002 safety study and subsequent engineering work. Brand noted that $2.5 million in costs are already taken care of with the completed bridge work.
The brainstorming session is set for 9:30 a.m. March 3 at the Madison County Engineer’s Office, 825 U.S. Route 42 NE, London (near the 42/I-70 interchange).
Ahmed recommended that the agenda cover costs, funding mechanisms, access management, and the idea of splitting the project into two parts—north of I-70 and south of I-70.
her, the dinner will be postponed until Feb. 3. Proceeds go toward the purchase of uniforms and equipment for the middle school and high school athletic programs. Long-term projects include construction of a new press box and overhauling the track.