Road projects to address future area population and traffic increases

By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor
Central Ohio’s population continues to grow and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission is making plans to deal with the accompanying future increase in traffic.

MORPC’s 2024-2050 draft Master Transportation Plan forecasts how approximately $35 billion will be spent over the next 20 to 30 years to address transportation needs.

MORPC Active Transportation and Safety Program Manager Lauren Cardoni said the Master Transportation Plan is updated every four years and submitted to the Ohio Department of Transportation and the United States Department of Transportation to evaluate transportation infrastructure to see where investment is needed.

“It is a long range plan, but there are shorter time frames within it to meet more immediate needs,” said Cardoni.

According to the plan, MORPC projects that the population in central Ohio’s 15 counties will increase from approximately 2.4 million people to 3.1 million by 2050. Accompanying this would be a 29 percent increase in the number of households and a 28 percent increase in the labor force within the central Ohio area. This means more traffic and the need for the transportation infrastructure to accommodate it all.

The following are some of the proposed projects to be tackled in the coming years within the Canal Winchester, Groveport, and Obetz areas:

•Widening State Route 317 south of Groveport Road.

•Widening Groveport Road west of State Route 317.

•Widening Alum Creek Drive from I-270 to State Route 317.

•Widening Pontius Road south of Rohr Road.

•Widening U.S. Route 33 from I-270 to Diley Road as well as constructing interchanges at Bixby Road and Pickerington Road.

•Widening Winchester Pike.

•Extending Richardson Road north to meet Ebright Road.

•Building a new road to connect the U.S. 33/Bixby Road interchange with Ebright Road.

•Constructing bike and pedestrian trails, particularly along greenway areas of local creeks, such as Walnut Creek and Big Walnut Creek.

Cardoni said MORPC’s goals are to: create sustainable neighborhoods; attract economic opportunity; protect natural resources; increase regional collaboration; provide transportation options; and reduce per capita energy consumption.

Public comments on the proposed projects must be submitted by 5 p.m. on March 29. A complete draft of the 2024-2050 MTP is available for review and comment at the MTP webpage at MORPC will host an open house regarding the plan at its office at 111 Liberty Street, Suite 100, Columbus, from 3:30-6:30 p.m. on March 19.

A formal presentation to review the plan will take place at 5:30 p.m. The final plan is expected to be adopted in May 2024.

Groveport City Council reacts
Cardoni presented the information to Groveport City Council at its Feb. 26 meeting where Councilman Shawn Cleary said he thinks the proposed Master Transportation Plan is coming too late, citing the growth of apartments in southeast Franklin County as already increasing traffic volume.

“The plan’s a day late and a dollar short,” said Cleary. “The area is already growing so fast. This plan seems too late.”

Councilman Jack Rupp added that U.S. 33 is already choked with traffic.

“Many of our traffic problems in the town of Groveport are the result of U.S. 33 and I-270 not being able to handle the traffic volume,” said Rupp. “We’ve become an avoidance route for traffic in southeast Franklin County.”

Cardoni said that the widening of U.S. 33 is a top priority for funding.

Council members also were not pleased with the plan’s proposal of extending Richardson Road north to Ebright Road because it would run the road through Groveport Park.

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