ODOT gets input about US Route 35 plans

BY DEBRA GASKILL Special Correspondent

April 17, 2014

BEAVERCREEK TOWNSHIP — Ohio Department of Transportation officials met with area residents Wednesday to get opinions on proposed changes to US Route 35 between North Fairfield Road and the Xenia Bypass.

The project, which could cost approximately $100 million, would convert that stretch of highway to a limited access highway, according to ODOT project manager and environmental engineer, Keith Smith, improving ease of travel as well as safety.

A limited access highway is one where businesses and homes will not be allowed driveways directly off of the roadway.

According to ODOT, that particular area of US 35 is the only stretch between Interstate 75 to West Virginia that is not a freeway level highway.

The hearing, held from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at the Beavercreek Maintenance Facility, 789 Orchard Lane, generated significant public interest. Within the first hour, approximately 70 people signed in to attend the open house style meeting.

The area has been a concern for the township, the city of Beavercreek as well as the state.

According to information presented at the hearing, approximately 100 accidents occur there annually and travel efficiency at the US 35 and Factory Road intersection are “at or close to failing,” ODOT said.

Nearly 39,000 vehicles travel that section of roadway each day.

ODOT would like to install ramps and service roads at Factory and Orchard roads in what is called a Texas U-turn, which is a lane allowing cars traveling on one side of a one-way frontage road to U-turn onto the opposite frontage road, typically crossing over or under a freeway or expressway.

According to ODOT’s proposal, a bridge would be built over US 35 at Orchard Lane, with access routes to area car dealerships and other businesses on both sides of the road. Another proposed bridge would be built over Factory Road that would improve visibility along Route 35.

A loop ramp would also be added at Valley and Trebein roads, which would minimize environmental impacts there.

These proposed changes would eliminate the traffic lights currently in use.

The proposals have some folks very concerned.

Rob George, general manager of Voss Toyota, says that while area car dealerships are “not thrilled” with the proposed interchanges, he said that dealerships “do care about safety.”

The proposed changes will “severely hurt businesses,” George said, during the two-to three-year construction period, then following completion, “you won’t see cars, you’ll just see rooftops.”

George said his business as well as the others at that intersection would continue to work with ODOT to “get the best of both worlds.”

Other concerns are what could happen to the John Harbine residence, which is located on Alpha Road south of US 35, according to Laura and Robert Bader, who represented the Beavercreek Historical Society.

The Harbine House was the site of Greene County’s first courthouse and was once the site of an early gristmill and saw mill, according to the Beavercreek Historical Society.

The home and the archeological remains are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, according to the Spring 2014 edition of the Beavercreek Historical Society newsletter, Log by Log.

“Alpha would love to have it stay,” Laura Bader said.

For John Ankeny, the project is “something we have to do.” Ankeny particularly likes the Factory Road proposal.

The project has been in development for a number of years, Smith said.

In 2004, the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC), in cooperation with ODOT completed a traffic study of the area.

In 2007, ODOT began developing ideas for those five interchanges, and by 2012 had the preferred alternatives completed.

A finalized environmental impact document and updated field studies are slated to be completed this spring, with a third public hearing to follow. A fourth public hearing will be held sometime this summer, according to ODOT’s schedule for the project.

A final design will be formulated, pending funding this year, and construction could begin in 2016.

“It’s not going to happen tomorrow,” said Beavercreek Mayor Brian Jarvis. “But it’s gotta happen sometime. Once this stretch gets fixed, it will open up the whole corridor all the way to the Xenia Bypass for business development. Xenia will benefit, Greene County with benefit and Beavercreek will benefit.”