Delaware County Engineer Chris Bauserman said he believes that a proposed Interstate 71 interchange at Big Walnut Road will finally become a reality.
He met with the county commissioners on Monday to request final approval of an agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation regarding preliminary engineering for the project.
“As you know, it’s something that’s been kind of ‘on again’ and then ‘off again’ for a number of years, and it looks like there’s at least some momentum toward making this happen now,” Bauserman told commissioners. “ODOT’s been very cooperative in this. I’m optimistic that we’ll get to move forward with this project.”
Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of a resolution that named AECOM Technical Services Inc. as the firm that will provide a feasibility study and preliminary engineering services for the project. According to the agreement, the county will be eligible for reimbursement of expenses not to exceed $719,866.
Bauserman said ODOT will reimburse up to $3 million for expenses incurred in relation to preliminary engineering services conducted for the interchange project. He said his office has contracted with AECOM on other projects in the county.
The feasibility study will take about 12 months to complete. The project would still need to receive approval from the Federal Highway Administration.
Bauserman noted that most of the feedback he’s received about the revival of the interchange idea has been positive.
“People are glad to see the project has been renewed,” he said.
Commissioners Gary Merrell and Barb Lewis both said that they have been approached by county residents expressing interest in the interchange project.
“More than once over the last few days I’ve been asked about it,” Merrell noted. “It’s a project that’s of high interest to a lot of people.”
Lewis said the interchange will be crucial to helping relieve traffic issues along Interstate 71 in the southeastern portion of Delaware County.
“It’s a very important project with all the congestion in the southern part of the county,” she said. “I hope that it is found feasible.”
Discussions started in the 1980s about an interchange along Interstate 71 at Big Walnut Road. The most recent feasibility study, conducted in 2008-09, determined that the project would not have been cost-effective due to the expense of adding extra lanes to the interstate in that area.
Budget hearings planned
County commissioners have released the schedule for 2015 county budget hearings. The following are the dates and times for the special sessions:
• Monday, Oct. 26, 1:30 p.m.
• Tuesday, Oct. 27, 9:30 a.m.
• Wednesday, Oct. 28, 9:30 a.m.
• Thursday, Oct. 29, 1 p.m.
• Friday, Oct. 30, 1 p.m.
• Monday, Nov. 16, 1:30 p.m.
• Tuesday, Nov. 17, 1 p.m.
• Thursday, Nov. 19, 1 p.m.
Andrew Carter can be reached at 740-413-0902 and on Twitter @AndrewCarterDG.