Interchange project ties up GC council

Many Grove City motorists have said they feel like they are taking their lives in their hands when traveling the State Route 665 and Interstate 71 interchange.

City leaders want residents to know that plans are in the works to fix the problem. At an Oct. 6 meeting, Grove City Administrator Sharon Reichard and Mike Keller, from EMH&T Engineers, updated council and residents on the project.

Reichard said this is not simply a road and bridge project.

"This will help to solidify economic development in the area," she said.

The project would address geometric, capacity and structural flaws of the current interchange. The design should alleviate safety concerns, capacity constraints and congestion.

In addition to the numerous cars that travel the interchange on a daily basis, the bridge is frequently used by tractor-trailers.

"It is not just the amount, but the size of the traffic that slows everybody down," said Reichard.

The bridge is approximately 50 years old and has a narrow two-lane structure without shoulders. This results in the backups on I-71 and 665. Before the city began construction on 665, the roadway had two narrow lanes, no sidewalks, no bike baths and no street lighting.

Keller explained that the planned project would replace the 50-year-old bridge with a new, wider one. It would become a seven-lane structure with a shoulder. A bike path would also be provided. State Route 665 would expand to five lanes, though engineers would leave room to expand to seven lanes in the future. There would be sidewalks, a bike path and street lighting.

Keller said once complete, the interchange should be similar to the interchange at Sawmill Road and Interstate 270.

The engineer explained that there are four phases in this project. First is an Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) interchange modification study and preliminary engineering plans. Keller explained that this step essentially lines up funding sources.

Phase one is the widening and reconstruction of 665 from North Meadows Drive to Hoover Road. This project has already been completed.

Phase two involves the relocation of Haughn Road. Council is expected to vote on a measure to secure $275,000 in funding for the project at the Oct. 20 meeting. Construction is planned for 2009.

The final phase would be the interchange replacement. Keller explained that the project design is expected by spring of 2009. Construction is planned for spring of 2010 and completion would be in 2011.

All the project phases could be held up by funding.

"This is a $40 million project," said Reichard. "We are only $9 million shy at the moment."

The city has reviewed several funding avenues. They have applied for funds from the Ohio Public Works Commission, Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission, federal earmarks and ODOT safety funds.

"We went after safety funding because there are so many accidents in that area," Reichard noted.

Reichard also explained that the city is trying to drum up regional support with Jackson Township, Franklin County, Pickaway County and the Rickenbacker Airport.

Keller said the project has received $10.5 million in federal funding for the construction. Grove City Mayor Ike Stage said the city has already contributed $5 million to the project.

The city is also working with ODOT to secure funding for Stringtown Road and Interstate 270 improvements.

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