A bypass on U.S. 42 and interchanges on Interstate 71 were among the road projects Delaware County commissioners discussed with a representative from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission during a work session on Monday.
“Every four years, we put together a long-range transportation plan,” said Nancy Reger, MORPC’s director of data and mapping. “We want to get the projects correct now.”
MORPC, a voluntary association of central Ohio governments, helps plan transportation, housing and sustainability projects for a 15-county region. It puts together a 20-plus year plan to be eligible to receive federal highway and transit funding for a metropolitan planning area that includes all of Delaware and Franklin counties, and portions of Fairfield and Licking counties.
“The reason it’s so far out is transportation projects take forever to fund and build,” Reger said. In addition, central Ohio continues to grow, with more than 500,000 people expected to move into the region, raising the population to 2.5 million by 2030.
“Delaware County is a huge part of why the region is so strong,” Reger said.
The 2016-2040 plan also includes a look at active transportation corridors that include trails and transit facilities.
After looking at maps of the four corners of the county and the city of Delaware, commissioners offered their thoughts on priority projects.
“A Route 42 bypass out to routes 36/37 is important,” said Commissioner Jeff Benton.
The other commissioners agreed.
“We need to do this so trucks won’t have to go through Delaware,” said Barb Lewis.
“This will relieve congestion at the Point (of routes 36 and 37),” said Gary Merrell.
Another project was for interchanges on Interstate 71 — improvements at the one currently serving routes 36 and 37, and adding one below it, near the Tanger outlet-store shopping mall. Merrell said that the market may dictate that the two truck stops currently at the interchange eventually move to Route 521 to help ease congestion.
Commissioners also mentioned projects for Glenn Parkway, Home Road and Lewis Center Road.
“East-west flow is a major priority,” Benton said.
Reger said MORPC’s plan also considers the transportation plans from the Central Ohio Transit Authority and Connect Columbus.
“We’re reaching out to everyone,” Reger said. “It’s not a wish list. The plan has to be fiscally balanced.”
Commissioners said they would also talk to the county engineer about other road projects.
A comment period runs through January, with an open house March 15 at MORPC, 111 Liberty St., Columbus, and plan adoption in May.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.