Local leaders are seeking $3 million in federal funding to create a themed interchange at South Limestone Street and Interstate 70, which they say will improve safety and beautify one of the city’s most important gateways.
The project also would reconfigure the intersection and replace the traffic signal at South Limestone Street and Leffel Lane.
“It’s a neat idea to have something that identifies us,” Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said. “I think it’s a good idea. A lot of the other places along the interstate have similar features that somehow connect to the community located there.”
About $400,000 in other state and federal traffic money will also be used as part of the project, the proposal says, for a total estimated cost of $3.4 million. Local leaders will also seek private, non-city money for further improvements to the interchange, Springfield City Manager Jim Bodenmiller said.
The city of Springfield submitted the proposal as part of the Dayton Development Coalition’s Priority Development and Advocacy list, an annual process designed to establish regional priorities when pursuing state or federal funding for local projects.
The I-70 project is supported by several entities, including the Clark County-Springfield TCC, Clark County and the Chamber of Greater Springfield, Bodenmiller said.
The public comment period for submissions began Monday and will continue through Dec. 16. Projects can be viewed at daytonregion.com/pdac-projects and public comments can be e-mailed to PDAC@daytonregion.com.
The interchange could have a 4-H theme with stone stamping and raised beds in the four quadrants, but no decisions have been made, Chamber President and CEO Mike McDorman said. The area is prime for growth over the next 30 years, he said, including the planned Kroger Marketplace on Ohio 72.
The improvements would make it the premiere gateway into Springfield, McDorman said. I-70 currently sees about 50,000 cars there per day.
“This is a time to really come together as a community and invest in an area we think we be the next opportunity for residential, retail, restaurant and hotel growth for the next 10, 20, 30 years,” he said. “We need to put the right pieces in place to make that happen.”
The intersection at South Limestone Street and Leffel Lane is currently ranked as the top safety location priority in the community, according to rankings by the Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee. The traffic is heavy at times through the morning and the afternoon due to congestion from both Clark State Community College students and Assurant employees, Copeland said.
“It’s a traffic mess right now,” Copeland said.
The improvements at the intersection include a double turn lane from Leffel Lane going south on to South Limestone Street to improve traffic flow in the evenings, TCC Director Scott Schmid said.
It would also add a right turn-only lane from South Limestone Street onto Leffel Lane to ease congestion in the mornings, he said.
“(The current intersection) just creates long lines backed up through through the signals to the east there, especially in the afternoon,” he said.
A new single would need to be installed to accommodate those changes, Schmid said.
The intersection was included in a recent South Limestone Corridor study, which is expected to be completed in January, he said. The changes to the intersection were received positively by the public at a recent open house, Schmid said.
“It’s priority while we’re still finishing up the study to find some money to redo the intersection,” he said.
The proposal includes replacing bridges with minor aesthetic improvements, the application says. The landscaping will tie together the interstate project, as well as planned retail development to the north and south, it says.
A $40 million project to widen Interstate 70 between Ohio 72 and U.S. 68 from two to three lanes is scheduled for 2019, although officials are working to have the construction completed earlier, Schmid said.
Last year Clark County listed a $9.75 million proposed downtown parking garage at the corner of North Fountain Avenue and North Street as the top priority for state or federal funding. It wasn’t among the submissions this year.
Last year the city of Springfield was awarded $1.5 million in state funding for the parking garage as part of the state capital budget bill.
The parking garage would support the creation of up to 700 jobs that could generate $27.5 million in annual payroll and will enhance the downtown area, which has seen more than $360 million in investments since 2009.
The plan calls for a 485-space, four-story parking garage with retail space on the first floor, although pieces of the design could change depending on the final cost. The project has been placed on hold due to a lack of money, Bodenmiller said.
Downtown still needs parking for job growth, Copeland said, especially as EF Hutton may bring as many as 400 jobs to Springfield.
“The people who work there need a place to park,” he said.
It’s possible the city could look to build a few smaller parking garages, the mayor said, rather than one large garage.
“There’s some decisions that have to be made before we have a clear idea of what we do,” Copeland said.
The garage may be back on the regional priority list in the future, McDorman said. But it’s a federal capital budget year, he said, so it’s unlikely that project would get federal funding so local leaders decided to focus on different projects.
Other priority projects listed for Clark County include two proposals submitted by Clark State Community College, including $4.9 million in improvements to the Performing Arts Center and $5 million to create a Workforce Development Center at the downtown Brinkman Center.
The Springfield-based Ohio UAS Test Center is also being included in a $10 million proposal that would fund a $20 million project to integrate local resources for unmanned aerial systems in the region.
By the numbers
$3.4 million: Total cost of reconfiguring the intersection at Leffel Lane and South Limestone Street and creating a themed interchange at exit 54 along Interstate 70.
$3 million: Amount of federal money local leaders are seeking for the project.
$400,000: Other state and federal traffic money to be used as part of the project.
Staying with the story
The Springfield News-Sun digs into important public safety issues, including recent stories about roundabouts proposed for Springfield and long-time efforts to widen Interstate 70 in Clark County.