The Buckeye Valley Board of Education on Wednesday discussed the Ohio Department of Transportation’s ongoing study concerning the future of U.S. Route 23 and agreed to draft a letter containing feedback on the options being explored.
ODOT reports the area from Waldo in Marion County to Interstate 270 along U.S. Route 23 is considered the weak link in the route from Toledo to central Ohio. ODOT is considering seven different plans to address the issue: two impacting western Delaware County, three impacting eastern Delaware County, one consisting of improvements to U.S. Route 23, and one where no improvements are made.
During Wednesday’s board meeting at Buckeye Valley High School, Interim Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Froehlich said the theoretical plans involving the eastern part of the county as outlined in ODOT’s “Route 23 Connect: Delaware Regional Connection Study” would travel through the district’s boundaries. Those options, including to ODOT, involve either adding a freeway from U.S. 23 to Interstate 71, adding a freeway to connect U.S. 23 and U.S. Route 36/state Route 37, or connecting state Route 229 to I-71.
Froehlich added the plans involving the western part of the county would also impact the district, but those concepts could affect Marion and Union counties more than Buckeye Valley Local Schools.
Board Vice President Donald Dicke said the concepts from ODOT, especially for the eastern part of the county, could create problems for the district.
“We already struggle with transporting the students in the district, and if they go and run a highway … that represents immediate challenges for the district,” Dicke said.
The proposed upgrades to U.S. 23 would be the least disruptive, he said, but added it’s difficult to gauge because the concepts cover such large areas.
Board President Amy Dutt discussed the possibility that the new highway could bring more development into the district, and the new developments could dramatically increase the number of students in the district. She added ODOT has not released any information concerning the possible impact on local communities, especially with regard to school busing.
“There’s not many 206-square-mile districts in the state,” Dutt said. “It’s already hard enough.”
Froehlich agreed to draft a letter to ODOT to let state officials know the plan to add a connection between SR 229 and I-71 concerns the district because of the amount of traffic that would pass Buckeye Valley East Elementary, and the plan to renovate U.S. 23 is the “least prohibitive” to the district.
In the letter, Froehlich told the board he will also ask for a study to be conducted on the impact the plans would have on growth in the district, adding BV “may not be able to handle that growth with our current facilities” if a lot of growth is expected.
Froehlich added the letter will be sent to ODOT on Monday to allow the board the weekend to review it.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.