Project will widen Alum Creek Drive

By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor
For decades, Alum Creek Drive was a two lane rural road, but the once sleepy road has expanded over the years along with area development and there are plans to widen the road even further to accommodate more traffic and growth.

According to Carla Marable​​​​, director of communications for the Franklin County Engineer’s Office the project will add an additional through travel lane (widening the road from four to six lanes) in each direction between State Route 317 and Groveport Road to improve safety and capacity.

“The two bridges just north of Bixby Road that carry Alum Creek Drive over Big Walnut Creek will be replaced,” said Marable. “The project will also construct a sidewalk and a shared-use path as well as improvements to the existing transit facilities in the corridor.”

The estimated cost of the project is $50 million. Work on the project could take place sometime from 2028 to 2033.

“Construction is currently anticipated to begin in early 2028,” said Marable. “Construction is anticipated to complete in late 2029.”

According to Marable, the current sources of funding include:

•ODOT Transportation Review Advisory Council – $4.8 million.

•Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission Attributable Funding – $10.5 million.

•Community Project Funding (U.S. Congressman Mike Carey) – $5 million.

•City of Obetz – $3.5 million.

•Madison Township – $100,000.

•Franklin County Transportation Improvement District – $200,000.

•Franklin County Engineer’s Office – $1.2 million.

•Toy Road, LLC (private developer) – $216,705.

•Central Ohio Transit Authority – $125,600.

“We continue to seek additional funding from other sources for this project,” said Marable.
“The additional proposed through lane will improve capacity and reduce congestion,” said Marable. “Intersection upgrades along the corridor will improve safety. Additionally, providing separated facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists will improve safety for all vulnerable road users.”

When asked what will the economic impact of the project would be on existing nearby businesses, Marable said, “Alum Creek Drive provides the primary connection between the Rickenbacker International Airport and Norfolk Southern Intermodal Terminal to the USDOT’s National Highway and Primary Freight Highway Systems. This is the first and last mile for millions of tons of cargo entering and leaving the Midwest. Improvements to the corridor will ensure safe and efficient traffic flow to the supply chain which is vital to the region’s economy.”

Concerning the project’s future economic impact on commercial development in the area, Marable said the area surrounding Alum Creek Drive is part of the Rickenbacker Global Logistics Park.

“This consists of five campuses that offer more than 80 million square feet of distribution space,” said Marable. “The surrounding area has the capacity to expand an additional 30 million square feet. Per the MORPC Rickenbacker Area Study, employment growth in the area is expected to grow by 7,700 jobs between 2017 and 2040. These jobs will be in warehousing and manufacturing and related office. This project will allow the people in these jobs to efficiently and reliably get to their place of employment.”

Regarding potential future detours as a result of the project, Marable said there are multiple options for maintaining traffic being considered.

“However, Alum Creek Drive will not be completely closed during construction,” said Marable. “At a minimum, two southbound lanes and one northbound lane of traffic are planned be maintained at all times. This will lead to increased congestion and delay during construction. Therefore, the use of other secondary routes to/from I-270, including State Route 317, U.S. Route 23, and U.S. Route 33, will be encouraged.”

She added that the current super load activities should be completed prior to the beginning of construction.

“If super load activities occur during construction, they will be coordinated with ODOT and the project team,” said Marable.

Groveport response
“The city or Groveport is pleased to support the Franklin County Engineer’s widening and improvement of Alum Creek Drive (State Route 317 to Groveport Road) in Franklin County,” said Groveport Development Director Michael Loges. “This project aims to improve a nearly three mile portion of Alum Creek Drive by adding another through lane in each direction, a sidewalk on one side, a shared-use-path on the other, and public transit bus stops along both sides allowing our neighbors to safely and more efficiently access employers and job opportunities. Transportation infrastructure drives the economic engine of our region by providing for the safe and efficient movement of people and goods.”

Loges said there isn’t a calculated Economic Impact Analysis per se, but the project has been a priority of MORPC as part of the Competitive Advantage Projects list as recognition that Alum Creek Drive is a principal arterial for both freight and passenger traffic and provides primary access from I-270 to Rickenbacker International Airport and Norfolk Southern Intermodal Terminal, all of which support the economy of the city of Columbus, the city of Obetz, the city of Groveport, Franklin County, the state of Ohio, and beyond.

Loges said the project’s benefits include:

•Strengthens long-term growth and economic sustainability for the Rickenbacker area, a key asset of the North American International Freight Center.

•Increases capacity on Alum Creek Drive, a part of the USDOT-designated National Primary Freight Highway System and a National Highway System Intermodal Connector Route linking to Rickenbacker Intermodal Airport and Norfolk Southern’s intermodal rail facility.

•Supports new and existing businesses by reducing traffic congestion, improving travel time reliability for shipments and workforce.

•Leverages more than half a billion dollars in public and private investments in the Rickenbacker area.

Obetz and Hamilton Twp. response

•When asked what impact the improvements to Alum Creek would have on future economic development in his city, Obetz City Administrator Rod Davisson said, “Not sure on this project yet. It’s not even designed as far as I know. I believe Franklin County is running it and we are a contributing entity. I think it’s not ripe yet. Should become more clear over the next several years.”

•At the Feb. 14 Hamilton Township trustee meeting, the trustees approved sending a letter of support for the Alum Creek Drive widening project to the Franklin County Engineer. Trustee Chairman Chris Hann said the township is not contributing any money to the project as the trustees feel that the jurisdictions that benefit from the widening should pay for the project. He said Hamilton Township gains no benefits from the widening of Alum Creek Drive and that the trustees are happy to submit the letter endorsing it, but they have no money to help pay for it.

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