Representatives from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) met with Grove City leaders on March 7 to provide an overview of an Interstate 270 outerbelt study.
The transportation study evaluated the existing safety and design conditions of the mainline roadway sections of I-270 between US Route 23 and I-71; and I-71 between Springtown Road and 270. It also included the 71/Stringtown Road, 71/270 and 270/US 23 interchanges. The purpose of the study was to investigate safety concerns, roadway capacity and congestion.
"The southside of Interstate 270 is the only part that has not been improved," said Grove City Mayor Ike Stage.
Stage also noted that ODOT officials would not discuss the I-71/State Route 665 interchange as previously said. He explained that the topic would be discussed at its own meeting.
Mandy Kisling, a project manager with ODOT, said the proposed improvements to the study area would reduce congestion, improve flow and safety, and bring the freeway up to current ODOT design standards. The total estimated project cost is $125 million to $238 million.
"Congestion is a lack of spacing and with the growth in Grove City, it has certainly become an issue," she said.
ODOT is in the beginning stages of the development process. They are identifying the problem, recommending "conceptual" solutions and initiating community input. Kisling explained that they have presented their ideas to the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission and are awaiting resolution from those members.
I-270 and US 23
The conceptual solution for the I-270/US 23 interchange is to optimize the use of the existing ramps by implementing a two-signal alternative.
"This addresses the high speed to low speed ramp," said Kisling.
In this proposed idea, the low-speed, crash-prone exit ramps would be removed while three diverges and two merges would remain. Under this solution, ODOT says most truck movement would not have to go through a signal; it would remain under free-flow conditions. This would cost an estimated $2 million.
I-71 and Stringtown Road
The proposed solution for the I-71/Stringtown Road interchange involves a partial cloverleaf looping alternative that would provide two entrance ramps that would have design speeds under 40 mph. Kisling said this option would enhance freight movement and would cost an estimated $8 million to $10 million.
Stage explained that the city could look into participating in funding for that project as the area is under a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement.
I-270 and I-71
Two conceptual solutions were recommended for the I-270/I-71 interchange. In both plans, the mainline freeway weaves would be eliminated and just one or none of the low-speed loop ramps would remain. Those cost of this is estimated between $90 million to $126 million.
On I-270, ODOT says they need three through lanes and one auxiliary lane in each direction. On I-71, they require two through lanes with either three lanes on a collector-distributor road or a braided ramp system.
The next step is for ODOT to go into a more detailed analysis of the conceptual ideas presented at the meeting. Tom Wester, deputy director for ODOT, explained that this is a "tier two" project, meaning it comes second to tier one projects. Wester said most projects have been put on hold due to funding and residents may not see construction on these projects until after 2014.
"We are facing some tough challenges," said Wester. "The international demand for concrete, steel and fuel is high and we have to determine how to fund it."
ODOT relies on federal and state funding for the projects. Wester noted that the department could try to complete some share of the project but said they would need a partner.
"Is there an opportunity to play off smaller pieces," Wester asked. "We’ll have to see."
The I-71/665 interchange is also a tier two project. Residents want to know if they too, will have to wait until beyond 2014 to see improvements.
"That bridge won’t last that long," said one participant.
Stage said the city has set aside some funding for the I-71/665 interchange and said they would look into what can be done in pieces that would alleviate some of the problems there.