On October 6, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) announced that it has recommended a preferred route for a new roadway, Sunbury Parkway, which will improve the Interstate 71/Route 36-37 interchange in Delaware County.
As the result of a 2012 feasibility study, ODOT determined that an upgrade to the existing 40-year-old I-71 Interchange would be south of the existing interchange near the closed weigh station on northbound I-71.
The portion of Sunbury Parkway east of I-71 would be entirely within the Village of Sunbury on property annexed into the village during the past two years; and partially funded as outlined in a previously negotiated and approved New Community Authority agreement between Northgate Commerce District and Sunbury.
Northgate Commerce District, a proposed commercial development at the southern interchange, received a Sunbury zoning change to Planned Commercial Development for 250 acres east of I-71. That zoning change allows Northgate principal Pat Shively and his partners to move forward with their plans to develop Sunbury Parkway. Northgate Commerce District, Phase One, would be east of the interstate and west of North Galena Road.
ODOT presented three alternatives routes for Sunbury Parkway west of I-71 during a Public Open House held at Northgate Church on April 28. The three alternatives were identified as Green, Blue, and Purple.
In the October 6 email sent to area stakeholders, ODOT Transportation Engineer Steven Fellenger said the recommended preferred alignment is the Green alternative. Fellenger’s notification also included a phasing plan that provides a rough project timeline.
“Some of the phases of construction are still a few years away,” Fellenger wrote. “Property acquisition usually begins two years prior to construction of each phase.”
Fellenger said there are several steps yet to be completed in order to carry the announced recommendation through the ODOT process to becoming the preferred alternative. He said some of those include an open house public meeting with a formal presentation scheduled for Thursday, October 20, additional detailed design, and a public hearing in early 2017.
Fellenger said property acquisition would take place during 2017 and 2018, and construction of the southern interchange would begin in 2018, pending funding availability.
Following ODOT’s announcement that the Green alternative was the preferred route for Sunbury Parkway west of I-71, Sunbury Mayor Tommy Hatfield said the 36/37/I-71 corridor is extremely vital to the greater Sunbury community.
“The residents and businesses of our community expect us as community leaders to ensure that improvements in that area would coincide with development,” Hatfield said. “This is the first step in ensuring the improvements keep pace and meet future demands.”
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.