What was once a lonely country road surrounded by farm fields is now a premier showcase of cooperative effort between municipalities, private owners, and state funding.
A CW & Violet Township joint effort
Improvements made to Diley Road, between Kings Crossing and Busey Road, are both functional and aesthetic. The thoroughfare accesses businesses in the Canal Pointe Industry and Commerce Park, which is part of a Cooperative Economic Development Agreement (CEDA) between Canal Winchester and Violet Township. Although the industrial park consists of 150 acres, the CEDA covers an area of more than 1,500 acres split between the two entities.
The CEDA was created to provide consensus on annexations, deal with road maintenance and utility services, provide uniform development standards, and provide income sharing between the political jurisdictions. In addition to road renovations on Diley Road, the focal point of the CEDA is a new $20 million interchange located at U.S. 33 and Diley/Hill roads.
"It’s not just another hum-drum industrial park," observed Jeff Miller, mayor of Canal Winchester. "The significance of this project is that we have taken a two-lane country road and turned it into one of the most attractive lanes in this corner of the region. You rarely see a public project with this amount of detail. It’s those fine appointments that may make a difference in a developer’s or business owner’s choice to build here."
Within the corridor, Meijer is already in the process of site development for a new store and Miller said work on a new hospital (a joint effort between Fairfield County Medical Center and Mount Carmel) could break ground as early as November. Plans call for a mix of retail, commercial, medical, office, and multi-family condominiums throughout the area.
"The Diley Road project has a good impact because the area is in rapid development and it sets perimeters for future development," added Violet Township Operations Director William Yaple. "It’s pretty and also sets the standard for Violet Pointe, for the CEDA, and is something that hasn’t been seen before. There are some things already happening at Canal Pointe because of the improvements."
Miller said the road project is finished, as far as funding on behalf of Canal Winchester and Violet Township is concerned. Remaining improvements are now under Pickerington’s jurisdiction and involve the northern section of Diley Road. Yaple said the township and the village each contributed $225,000 towards their share of the $5.7 million project, which included funding from Ohio Public Works, grants, a loan from the OPW, and property assessments.
"We felt it was important not to penalize folks doing business in Canal Winchester," commented Miller regarding an equitable distribution of assessments. "We structured this on a formula of ability to pay and made it fair for everyone to do. We knew we needed to do something different. We met higher criteria by the government because the state wants to see a higher portion of private commitment to projects like this. We started getting funding in place three years ago and the village served as the local funding government."
According to Pickerington City Manager Judy Gilleland, the city’s portion of the project is approximately $13 million for work on 3.5 miles of Diley Road, from Busey to $4 million in improvements south of State Route 256. Gilleland said the project is extensive, but a good portion of the reconstruction is funded by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and the Ohio Department of Transportation.
"Right now we’re in the utility relocation phase and have right-of-ways clear," said Gilleland. "They’re (right-of-ways) either settled or in the legal process. The right-of-ways involved mostly frontage. There are some total takes, and we hate to displace families, but we have to follow government guidelines. We have federal deadlines we have to meet.
"The project will help alleviate traffic on 256, provide an ease of access to U.S. 33, and help provide economic development opportunities. With the new hospital going in, there is the potential for medical offices and it will make Diley a more attractive and safer thoroughfare. Right now it carries a high volume of traffic on a country road. When the project is completed, it will be able to carry a high volume of traffic on a road built for that purpose."
Final plans for improvement of Pickerington’s section of Diley Road are under review by ODOT. Gilleland said if all goes well, the city could be ready to bid the project this fall, with hopes of completing work sometime in 2009.