ODOT revives Rt. 33 Interchange Plan

Posted in the Columbus Forum

Enzyte Bob

Blacklick, OH

#1 Mar 12, 2013
ODOT revives Rt. 33 interchange plan

By Mary Beth Lane

The Columbus Dispatch Tuesday March 12, 2013 3:05 PM

The Ohio Department of Transportation is reviving plans to ease congestion along Rt. 33 in Fairfield County by replacing a traffic light at the Carroll intersection with a modern interchange.

The project planned for the intersection at High Street/Winchester Road is part of the ongoing transformation of Rt. 33 into an interstate look-alike without traffic lights from Franklin County to southern Fairfield County.

It initially was estimated to cost $60 million. Officials said they lacked the money. They came up with a cheaper alternative, an $8.5 million “superstreet” redesign that would have enhanced through-traffic along Rt. 33 by allowing only right turns from the two side streets onto the highway.

No one liked that plan. Also, it was determined that the “superstreet” would only work for about five years before projected traffic increases overtook it.

ODOT officials have returned to their original plan to build an interchange, and have come up with a different, cheaper design estimated to cost up to $40 million to build.

“An interchange was always the preferred alternative,” said Joe Rutherford, who directs the agency’s regional office in charge of the highway.“We believe that the money is going to be there to build it.”

Fred Silvia, who is accustomed to rush-hour backups at the intersection on his drive along Rt. 33 to his job at a steel plant on the South Side of Columbus, was pleased to hear that ODOT was reviving the interchange plan. He is among those who believe that the only traffic solution was to make Rt. 33 into a limited-access highway.

About 48,000 vehicles use Rt. 33 each day between Carroll and Gender Road.

“I’m glad they’re going back to it,” Silvia said.“Now, will they find the money?”

ODOT Director Jerry Wray said previously that the department promised too much in the past and that some projects would be delayed because of funding limitations. The Rt. 33 interchange in Carroll was one of the projects postponed.

Now, however, ODOT has saved about $400 million in operating costs that can be put into road building projects, Rutherford said. A plan for the state to issue bonds to be backed by toll revenue from the Ohio Turnpike also would make money available to help ODOT build projects statewide that had been delayed, he said.

Rutherford said he will pitch the interchange plan to ODOT’s Transportation Review Advisory Council, which decides which projects are priorities.

“Our goal is to have a shovel-ready project, when and if the money is available, by the end of 2014,” with completion anticipated by the end of 2016, he said.

Eventually, state transportation officials also plan to replace the traffic light at Pickerington Road with an interchange. That plan is not on the drawing board yet, Rutherford said.

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local...

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