By Rick Palsgrove
Another plan is underway to improve road conditions and traffic congestion on Toy Road, Swisher Road, and Saltzgaber Road.
“We’re proposing roadway and drainage maintenance improvements,” said Fritz Crosier, chief deputy of engineering for Franklin County Engineer Cornell Robertson.
Representatives from the Franklin County Engineer’s Office, the city of Groveport, and Madison Township met with area residents on June 4 to discuss the plan.
Residents living on Toy Road, Saltzgaber Road, and Swisher Road have been frustrated for several years by the poor conditions of these roads as well as the heavy traffic from nearby commercial warehouses that use these narrow, formerly rural roads. The residents are seeking relief from the vehicle and semi-truck traffic they say damages the roads, tears up yards, knocks over mailboxes (one resident said he has replaced his mailbox 11 times due to it being damaged by traffic), causes noise, generates trash, and creates congestion.
The three roads have the added problem of falling within several different government jurisdictions including Madison Township, the towns of Groveport and Obetz, and Franklin County. The three roads total 2 miles with 1.5 miles in Madison Township and a half mile in Groveport.
“All three roads are in poor condition,” said Crosier.
Crosier said the plan is to resurface all three roads, improve drainage, consider installing speed humps in places to slow down traffic, and construct back-to-back cul-de-sac bulbs on Toy Road just east of Centerpoint Parkway.
The cul-de-sacs will close Toy Road, except for emergency vehicles. The closure is not permanent and the county is not vacating that portion of the road that will be closed. Crosier said the closure will allow the county to see how it impacts the surrounding area.
“The cul-de-sac bulbs will keep truck traffic to the west and residential traffic to the east,” said Crosier. “It separates commercial Toy Road from residential Toy Road.”
Additionally, Crosier said the speed limit on Swisher Road was reduced from 45 mph to 40 mph in April. Toy Road and Saltzgaber Road have a 35 mph speed limit. Crosier said the county could have an opportunity to go back and “take another look” at the Swisher Road speed limit in the future.
Crosier said the county is designing the plan, developing cost estimates, seeing how utilities and property owners would be impacted, and seeking funding sources. The plan will need the approval of the Franklin County Commissioners and resolutions of support from Groveport, Madison Township, and Obetz.
Funding sources could include the Ohio Public Works Commission and local funds.
“We’re not waiting on developers for funding any more,” said Crosier. “We will also need an intergovernmental agreement (between the county, city of Groveport, and Madison Township) to determine who pays for what.”
Crosier said he anticipates construction on the project would begin in 2020.
Previous plan scrapped
Last summer a $2.8 million proposal was made to reconstruct about a half mile of Toy Road that is located in the city of Groveport from Centerpoint Parkway to Swisher Road. The plan included a cul-de-sac on Toy Road west of Swisher Road.
The city of Groveport had applied for, and received, approval for an Ohio Public Works Commission grant of $1.1 million plus a $433,254 loan to help fund the city’s portion of the project’s cost. The county was set to contribute $218,757 of in-kind monies. A prospective developer had proposed to kick in $1 million towards the project.
However, according to Groveport City Engineer Steve Farst, the developer had a condition that it had to be successful in acquiring real estate in the area before it would provide its share of the funding.
“The developer could not obtain the purchase agreements, realized it could not make it happen, and withdrew their $1 million,” said Farst. “The city could not make up the difference. We were disappointed.”
In April, Groveport officials notified the OPWC the city could not proceed with the project without a private financial partner and so had to decline the OPWC funding.