According to a new study on the U.S. Route 23 corridor, the 17-mile stretch between Coover Road and Interstate 270 contains 35 traffic lights that are reducing the speed of the traffic by 50 percent.
Chris Hermann, a member of MKSK Studios in Columbus, presented “The U.S 23 Corridor Study and Action Plan” to the Delaware County Board of Commissioners Thursday (Feb. 14) during a work session.
“One of the motivations behind the study is when large economic projects announce interest to develop in the area, the U.S. 23 corridor does not rise to the top — it’s not even considered,” Hermann said. “I think there is a lot of interest in looking at the (U.S) 23 corridor and how we can improve it compared to where it is today. The (U.S.) 23 corridor is one of the key arteries, but at the same time, we’re not attracting economic development.”
According to Hermann’s presentation, the study received support from the Delaware County Foundation, the Delaware County Board of Commissioners, and a number of agencies and organizations throughout the county.
Hermann said when thinking about the traffic movement in the corridor, one can’t help but notice there are a lot of traffic lights.
“Because of the east-west movement, we have major intersections where we have a lot of traffic going through the east-west and then a lot of traffic moving north-south,” he said. “That’s where slowdowns happen.”
Hermann then pointed out the Interstate 71 and U.S. Route 36/state Route 37 intersection, noting it is the second busiest freight corridor in the state.
“Freight traffic is coming from all over the place in all directions through Delaware County to get to I-71,” he said. “These types of areas become more attractive for economic development, industrial development, and business because of access to the interchanges.”
Hermann said more east-west connectors would help guide traffic to the various corridors of I-71, U.S. 23, U.S. 42, and U.S. 36/state Route 37 throughout central Ohio.
He added the other part of the equation is the workforce of central Ohio is 1.1 million people who an average commute of 24 minutes.
“It’s all based on the transportation network,” he said. “The interesting thing is employees that work in Delaware County are coming from all around in the surrounding counties. We have 48,000 people commuting into the county … they are coming in for lower wage jobs, while 65,000 people commute out of the county for the higher paying jobs.”
Hermann said creating employment centers would keep more people in Delaware County, creating a more balanced growth between residential and economic development. He also said it would help alleviate some of the pressure off the road network.
“There has been a lot of great work with water and sewer, so there is a capacity throughout the area to help growth,” he said. “But the thoroughfares are the drivers.”
Hermann said the area around the corridor appears to be only 67 percent developed, but he said 9,300 acres of the land is already going through the development process.
“Again, it’s a great place to live and it’s attractive, and there’s a market for it,” he said. “There are 3,500 acres that are planned for residential development. That is 5,000 two-family units and 2,100 apartments and condos that are already in the pipeline.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.