It was fitting that the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission held a Regional Collaboration meeting last week in Sunbury, since two future projects involve the growing village.
“It went very well,” said Sunbury spokeswoman June Rhodes-Diehl of the May 21 meeting. “There were 30 attendees from various cities, townships, and villages in the NE Central Ohio Quadrant. Sunbury was honored to be the host for this regional collaboration meeting.”
“Guests are invited to share brief updates on development activities taking place in their communities,” stated a press release issued by MORPC about the meeting. Also on the agenda was transportation and infrastructure updates.
In February, MORPC and Columbus 2020 issued a list of 43 priority Competitive Advantage Projects in 10 counties requiring more than $5.2 billion in infrastructure investments. The CAP process began in 2016.
“The CAP process means our communities have a list of prioritized, shovel-ready infrastructure projects that we can share with federal and state officials,” MORPC Executive Director William Murdock said at the time. “The growth of Central Ohio demands that we must be especially proactive with addressing our infrastructure needs. Through this process, we are ready to move forward and advance Central Ohio’s priorities any time funding becomes available. We are excited about the infrastructure funding discussions happening at both state and federal levels.”
“The Columbus Region is one of the fastest growing metro areas in America. To continue to thrive, it is more critical than ever to prioritize precious resources,” said Kenny McDonald, Columbus 2020 president and chief economic officer.
Sunbury has ties to two projects — the Big Walnut Interchange, and the Sunbury Parkway and Interchange.
“The Big Walnut Interchange project will construct a new Interstate 71 interchange at Big Walnut Road (Township Road 109),” states MORPC. “The project also includes road improvements in an approximate half-mile vicinity and incorporates bike and pedestrian infrastructure as well as a potential park and ride facility to support fixed-route transit into Columbus and/or Westerville.”
When completed, the Big Walnut Interchange will help relieve congestion at I-71 and Polaris and Gemini roads; connecting neighborhoods with mass transit; improve access to Alum Creek State Park; and create and retain 1,320 jobs. The Delaware County Engineer’s Office will partner with the Ohio Department of Transportation and MORPC on the $67 million project.
“The Sunbury Parkway and Interchange project will increase the capacity of the Interstate 71 interchange at US 36/SR 37 by creating additional ramps that connect to a new east to west regional route,” states MORPC. “The first phase of the project includes construction of a partial interchange south of the existing interchange to serve the planned Sunbury Parkway corridor.”
When completed, Sunbury Parkway and Interchange will help relieve congestion at I-71 and routes 36/37; improve access to businesses such as American Showa (Sunbury) and Kroger Midwest Distribution (Delaware); and improve safety at the I-71 exit ramp. ODOT will partner with Sunbury, Delaware County and MORPC on the $110-$140 million project, with revenues from Tanger Outlet Malls and the Northgate development. The project is said to support 2,900 jobs by 2040.
Two other projects identified by MORPC will have an impact on eastern Delaware County. A $2 million ODOT project will make improvements to US 36/SR 3 at Oliver Road and Updike Road intersection in the village of Centerburg in Knox County. An estimated $5 million Johnstown bypass would extend SR 310 from SR 37 north to Sportsman Club Road and/or US 62 around the village of Johnstown in Licking County.
Other major CAP projects include Columbus Crossroads (I-70/I-71 Innerbelt) through downtown Columbus (Frankin County); Linking the City of Lancaster with job centers in central Columbus through a new transit route (Fairfield County); Restoring a freshwater source to Buckeye Lake to improve water quality and tourism (Perry County); Expanding the 33 Smart Mobility Corridor improvements (Union and Logan counties); Improving the logistics-focused interchange at I-70 and SR 29 (Madison County); Improving regional transportation assets such as access to Rickenbacker and new facilities at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport (Franklin County); upgrading the Easton Town Center/Northeast Franklin County Corridor in the cities of Gahanna and New Albany; Plain City water and sewer improvements (Madison County).
In other recent developments, MORPC recognized the cities of Columbus and Westerville as “Sustainable2050 communities” for their actions to promote sustainability. In addition, Washington Township, bordering Delaware, Franklin and Union counties, was approved as the 67th commission member of MORPC.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.