The next public meetings regarding the Route 23 Connect: Delaware Regional Connection Study will take place at noon and 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Merchant Building in the Delaware County Fairgrounds, 236 Pennsylvania Ave., Delaware.
There will be a presentation given by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) at each meeting. “ODOT has begun a study to determine the feasibility of creating a free-flow connection between Columbus and Toledo,” the meeting notice said.
The point of the connection is to make Columbus a national logistics hub with improved access to northwest Ohio, Michigan and Canada.
The study “will evaluate multiple large-scale improvements to the U.S. Route 23 corridor between Waldo in Marion County and Interstate 270 in Franklin County, including an upgrade of the existing alignment, and a combination of the existing alignment and new connection U.S. 33 or I-71,” ODOT said.
The options include a new connection to U.S. 33 to the west, and a new connection to I-71 to the east. The alignments are currently conceptual and will be compared based on travel time, safety, cost, and impact on communities and the environment.
“Currently, this corridor experiences congestion, unpredictable travel times, and high crash rates,” the study description said. According to ODOT, Route 23 has 30% more traffic than it was designed for. It is expected that the problems will increase without major improvements.
ODOT held a series of virtual public meeting on Route 23 Connect in July, as well as an online presentation Nov. 3 at publicinput.com/23connect. As a follow-up, the agency is seeking public questions and comments at Wednesday’s meetings.
One of the many areas impacted by the study is Orange Township, which posted the meeting notice on its Facebook page. The study’s steering committee list includes Orange, Berlin, Delaware, Liberty, Marlboro, Thompson, Troy and Waldo townships. Also on the list are the cities of Delaware, Columbus, Marion, Marysville, Toledo and Worthington; as well as Delaware, Champaign, Logan, Lucas, Marion, Morrow, and Union counties; along with the Ohio Trucking Association.
A fact sheet issued by ODOT said the study will continue into 2022. “If improvements are recommended, further study of a solution will begin in late 2022,” the fact sheet said.
Comments on the study will be accepted by Dec. 13. For more information, visit transportation.ohio.gov/23connect.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.