The next phase of the Route 23 Connect Study was recently announced after none of the six concepts that were initially proposed made the grade.
“In Spring 2021, ODOT began the Route 23 Connect study to determine the feasibility of a free-flow connection between Toledo and Columbus, focusing on the segment of U.S. 23 between Waldo and I-270,” said a project update sent last week on behalf of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). “The project team spent the past year evaluating six concepts before announcing that none of the concepts presented could be reasonably implemented and therefore, would not be advanced. However, the study is not complete.”
The ODOT website (www.transportation.ohio.gov) said there was a seventh option, which would be a no-build option.
“The cost, complexity, and environmental impact of the concepts presented in the first phase of the study were so high they would prevent the project from moving forward in a timely manner, if ever,” the update said. “Rather than continuing to spend time and resources on concepts that would almost certainly never move forward, the study is shifting its focus to further identify opportunities toward making smaller, but impactful improvements sooner.
“Currently, the project team is using the data already collected to further identify specific intersections and segments along U.S. 23 that are particularly problematic,” the update continued. “Building upon the information from the previous phase and continuing the technical analysis will then allow us to prioritize new project concepts that improve the flow of traffic along the existing U.S. 23 corridor. To kick-off this new phase of Route 23 Connect, ODOT plans to meet with community partners in the month of August to learn about upcoming projects along the corridor and gather feedback related to congestion, mobility, and safety.”
There was no word on ODOT’s Columbus District 6 Facebook page about those meetings.
“Then, this fall, ODOT will roll out an online mapping tool to allow the public to provide location-specific feedback on potential new improvement concepts along the corridor,” the update said. “This tool will be available throughout the Fall and holiday season and will be critical in evaluating these new proposed projects.
“This evaluation over the next six months will inform an action plan that pinpoints new specific project concepts, which would provide safer and more efficient travel, including increased travel time reliability for through traffic,” the update continued. “These new project concepts will range in size and scope, with the goal of implementing projects within a timeframe that will provide drivers with benefits sooner rather than later.”
A search on the Projects link of the ODOT website revealed nothing for Delaware County.
“Next year, there will be more opportunities to provide feedback on the proposed project concepts at various locations before the study recommendations are expected to be finalized in the fall of 2023,” the update concluded. “Again, we appreciate your involvement and feedback thus far and encourage you to remain engaged throughout this new phase of Route 23 Connect.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.