Thursday, December 06, 2001

Monroe road won't wait for state

City hopes for development near I-75 interchange

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MONROE — City officials here are accelerating their own road expansion plans near the crowded Interstate 75 and Ohio 63 interchange, rather than waiting to see what state officials plan for the connector.

        Mayor Elbert Tannreuther said recently that the congested interchange is clogging potential commercial growth for the small Butler County city, especially immediately east of I-75 and Ohio 63 in Warren County.

        “The delay is hurting the economic development of that area,” Mr. Tannreuther said.

        On Friday Ohio Department of Transportation officials are expected to release a list of highway renovation projections it will fund. ODOT's Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) list may include approval of $4.3 million to $33.6 million for expanding the Ohio 63 highway interchange.

        But regardless of ODOT plans, Mr. Tannreuther and other Monroe city officials say they don't want to further idle their own plans for widening sections of Ohio 63 while waiting for the even lengthier state process to be played out.

        “Anything the state would do is about four years away (2005) from becoming a reality,” he said, in a partial reference to TRAC's funding process, which allows for public comment on any project through April and then a series of public meetings into fall 2002 before final approval can be granted.

        Monroe, he said, can use a $2.7 million federal grant and begin breaking ground in 2003 to widen Ohio 63 from its current two lanes to five from the I-75 interchange to Union Road.

        Mr. Tannreuther stressed that the city, which recently began engineering and surveying studies on Ohio 63, will work closely with ODOT in coordinating any road expansion to match renovation of the I-75 interchange, which could include replacing the current Ohio 63 bridge over the highway with an expanded span and new highway ramps. Such a project likely would not be completed until 2008.

        City officials hope to attract a large retail mall just east of the interchange by luring developers with expanded roadways.

        A traffic count study recently completed by M-E Companies calculated that 82,200 vehicles per day travel on I-75 between Ohio 129 and Ohio 63, and 77,900 vehicles per day use the interstate between Ohio 63 and Ohio 122.

        Monroe Councilman Michael Morris agreed with the mayor, saying, “it's really critical for us to start moving at this time.

        “If we wait on the big picture to develop, we could be waiting until 2020.”


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