U.S. 33/Route 161 exchange to get $48M facelift


The Ohio Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that it will contribute another $4.3 million to the project to improve the interchange at U.S. 33/state Route 161 and Post Road. (Photo submitted)

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) announced Wednesday that Union County will receive $4.3 million to improve traffic flow in Jerome Township, as part of a larger $48 million project.
ODOT’s Transportation Review Advisory Council recommended the funding to make improvements to the U.S. 33-State Route 161 interchange.
This project previously received $7 million in TRAC funding. According to information from ODOT, the $11.3 million in TRAC funding for the project will be part of the 2021 funding commitment. The project calls for $20 million in local funding. According to information from ODOT, the total project cost is expected to exceed $48.5 million.
“This is a significant project not only for southern Union County but the U.S. 33 corridor and the entire region,” State Representative Tracy Richardson wrote in a statement. “Getting this project done right will ensure smooth traffic flow and protect public safety. I appreciate the Transportation Review Advisory Council’s support for this important local project in our area.”
The grant is less than half of the $9.25 million the county had requested.
According to information from ODOT, the U.S. 33/SR 161 and Post Road Interchange project “upgrades the existing rural interchange into an urban interchange to improve safety, reduce congestion, and accommodate growth in the area.”
The project’s proposed improvements to the interchange will include two new loop ramps that will “eliminate the existing left-turn conflicts to enter the US 33 ramps.”
“The intersections with both the east and west ramp terminals will be controlled via multi-lane roundabouts that will ensure viable traffic operations well into the future,” according to a release about the project.
ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks said that while ODOT uses more than 90 cents of every dollar for maintaining existing roads and bridges, “we still have to address congestion and enhance capacity where it makes sense.”
Officials said planning studies and environmental approvals for the project were completed more than a decade ago. A detailed design for the new interchange is in progress.
Officials said the right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation are also underway.
As part of Wednesday’s announcement, ODOT said it will invest an additional $398 million into major-new projects over the next four years. According to a release from ODOT, the funding is “a direct result of the transportation budget approved by the Ohio General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine last April.”
“As Ohio’s economy continues to grow, we must be able to address the demands put on our roads and bridges,” Marchbanks said. “These funds allow us to eliminate pinch points, reduce congestion and make our roads and bridges safer for moving people and goods across Ohio.”
He said that earlier this year ODOT was struggling for funding.
“Money for major new projects wasn’t even a thought,” Marchbanks said. “However, thanks to an increase in the state’s motor fuel tax — a user fee — we’ve been able to move forward with these much-needed projects.”
TRAC operates on an annual application cycle. Earlier this year, TRAC received 27 applications for development or construction of transportation projects totaling nearly $925 million. The board held a series of hearings around the state to learn about each of the applications.
At the completion of the application process TRAC members vote on the approval of the Major New Construction Program List of funding commitments for preliminary engineering, detailed design, right-of-way and project construction.
Last month, TRAC approved a draft list and opened a public comment period.

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