The Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) is gearing up to review over $390 million in proposed highway construction projects designed to minimize congestion and/or improve capacity. If approved, the funding for the projects will come from the Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Major New Capacity Program (which finances developments over $12 million) over the next four years. A total of 31 projects are on the list for final approval, including projects worth $225 million proposed for central Ohio.
31 applications received
TRAC follows an annual application cycle, and has received a total of 31 new applications so far in 2023. Once all applications have been received, TRAC members vote on whether or not to approve “the Major New Construction Program List of funding commitments for preliminary engineering, detailed design, right-of-way and project construction”. This methodical annual application process helps TRAC choose and prioritize projects as needed. “We have more projects than we have money,” said Breanna Badanes, an ODOT spokesperson. “TRAC funds various stages of project development—design and construction. They will want to keep track of projects in development so they can bid on those when they move to construction.”
$19 million for Pickaway County
A $19 million project is slated for Pickaway County; this funding will be used to convert the Rickenbacker East-West Connector into a full interchange, and therefore finally complete a long-held “master plan”. If the project goes ahead, construction will be completed as quickly and efficiently as possible. Heavy equipment like skid steer loaders will therefore be used – these machines typically provide significantly greater hydraulic flow and power than other larger models. Durable undercarriage parts will also be fitted to ensure the machines operate smoothly and avoid downtime.
Numerous other traffic projects
Downtown Columbus may be awarded the biggest project – $120 million to reconstruct the east interchange of I-70 and I-71. In addition to expanding capacity, the proposal also states intentions to eradicate weaves and strengthen ramps. A $59.5 project has also been earmarked for an interchange in Fairfield County (it’ll replace the intersection on Pickerington Road and U.S. Route 33). And, in Franklin County, $72 million may be used to reconstruct the I-71 between E. Broad Street and E. Main Street, while $31 million is also earmarked to widen U.S. Route 33 (to six lanes up from four) from the I-270 interchange to the Fairfield County line. The funding will also be used to replace two intersections at Rager Roads and Bixby, as well as generally enhance interchange. Finally, Licking County may also benefit from $5 million that’ll be put towards replacing an old, dilapidated stone arch bridge on Cherry Valley Road over Raccoon Creek.
“Ohio is on the move,” said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks. “These investments will help ensure that transportation isn’t a barrier to prosperity across the state.” Ohioans can make their opinions on the traffic project proposals known and send their comments via email to [email protected] until March 23rd. TRAC is set to vote on the final list on March 29th.