Published: Thursday, November 02, 2017 @ 4:18 PM
By: Cornelius Frolik - Staff Writer
Long-discussed plans to widen U.S. 35 from east Dayton to Beavercreek Twp. inched closer to becoming a reality after a vote today by a metropolitan planning organization.
Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission members overwhelming voted in favor of allowing the commission to take part in negotiations with a state organization about potential ways to fund the project.
Studies and local stakeholders for years have called for extending U.S. 35’s three lanes from east Dayton, where the road shrinks to two lanes, out to Interstate 675.
Local officials say the road has a dangerous bottleneck that hurts traffic flows and has contributed to auto crashes.
“As you know, it’s been priority No. 1 for years,” said Brian Martin, executive director of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission.
The Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission later this month will meet with the state’s Transportation Review Advisory Council to discuss funding opportunities for the U.S. 35 widening project .
The council helps the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) develop the selection process for choosing projects to fund.
The project would focus on the roughly three-mile stretch of the road from Livingston Avenue to I-675.
The regional planning commission proposes using some of its funds for the project if ODOT agrees to contribute as well.
The commission says it could contribute about $2.9 million toward the $14 million project and may ask the state?? for about $8.7 million, according to the commission.
The funds would be part of the next solicitation period in 2024.
Municipalities and organizations across the region for years have wanted to widen U.S. 35, with some local officials calling it the region’s “top infrastructure priority.”
Up to this point, the main obstacles have been financial.
The project was always expected to be expensive, and cities including Dayton and Riverside did not have funding available to contribute, according to the planning commission.
But projected costs have fallen.
ODOT two years ago estimated construction costs would be $25 million, Martin said. Last year, the state estimated it would it would cost $21 million, he said.
But now, ODOT says the project would cost about $14 million, which makes it more obtainable to the commission and worth pursing, Martin said.
The project needs a local funding match in order to be upgraded to a high priority for ODOT, and the region can step in to help provide some needed funding, Martin said.
Dayton and Riverside have been long-time advocates for the project, and so have Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, officials said.