You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Base road ahead of schedule, under budget

Clark County reroutes road to meet security standards.


A construction project designed to protect the Springfield Air National Guard Base from terrorism by relocating the nearest road is under budget and ahead of schedule.

About 300 feet is all that’s left of the $3 million project to move Ohio 794 away from Guard buildings in order to meet tougher security standards set for military bases after 9/11.

“The bottom line is, we had to do this,” Clark County Engineer Jonathan Burr said Tuesday, the day the western section of the new road opened to traffic.

The entire stretch likely will open in September or early October instead of November, as initially planned.

Burr also is anticipating giving money — possibly as much as $800,000 — back to the federal and state governments.

“We’re going to be way under the $3 million estimate,” he said.

The project has been eight years in the making, and its funding includes a $980,000 earmark obtained by David Hobson when he still represented the area in Congress.

The county, which will take over the road once complete, started construction in March by clearing farmland and a few patches of trees for 1.42 miles of new road.

Among the benefits of coming in under budget is that the county will be able to put a heavier, longer-lasting asphalt surface on the road at a cost of $80,000 more, Burr said.

“The way the county budget is,” he said, “I need to get as long a surface life as I can.”

The road still will connect U.S. 68 and Ohio 72, but merely puts more distance between drivers and the Guard.

The base’s 178th Fighter Wing was flying F-16s when the National Guard began to examine the possibility of moving the road in 2005, but has since switched to remotely flying Predator drones abroad — a sensitive new mission that has attracted protesters to similar bases.

For the base commander, the finished project will be a relief.

“It will put us in compliance with (Department of Defense) anti-terrorism standards,” Col. Gregory Schnulo said.

Those same standards — which state that a road should be at least 82 feet from any inhabited building and at least 148 feet from primary gathering facilities — led Wright-Patterson Air Force Base last fall to permanently close a stretch of Ohio 444 in Fairborn.

Closing Ohio 794 wasn’t viable, Burr said, with so many farm trucks in particular using the road.

“This was the best option that we had,” he said.

The project also puts the local Guard base in a stronger position to withstand any future rounds of the Pentagon’s Base Realignment and Closure process, Burr said.

The base pumps $99.4 million annually into the county economy, according to the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s a major employer in the county,” Burr said.

While the view from the new road makes the base look larger, it will retain the same amount of land after part of it is given back to the city for the airport, Schnulo said.

“It looks good. They’re doing a great job, and doing it very quickly, too,” Schnulo said.

Keeping the old Ohio 794 open to traffic for as long as possible during construction allowed crews to complete the project faster, according to Justin Bukey of DLZ Corp., which was hired by the county to oversee construction due to a shortage of manpower at the engineer’s office.

“We’d still be working if we had local traffic,” Bukey said. “When you have virgin construction, where you stop for the day is where you stop.”

Heather Myers, a resident of the area, was pleasantly surprised Tuesday when she instinctively took the finished section of road toward Peacock Road after dropping her daughter off at Hustead Elementary School.

“Wait a minute,” she thought, “this is supposed to be closed.”

“It’s exciting it’s finally open and I can get home faster,” Myers said.

Once the entire project is complete, the main entrance for the base will face U.S. 68, although Schnulo was unsure Tuesday when construction of a new gate will start.

The static displays of fighter jets flown through the years by the 178th will also likely be out of public view for good.

“It’d cost a lot of money to move a plane on a stick,” Schnulo said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community News

Missing woman found in well hole in neighbor’s shed; man charged with kidnapping
Missing woman found in well hole in neighbor’s shed; man charged with kidnapping

Police arrested a man Wednesday morning after authorities found a missing woman trapped inside his shed. Jennifer Elliot was reported missing just after midnight Wednesday and was found around 4 a.m. after residents heard her cries coming from a shed on Central Avenue in Blanchester.  Police went to the 100 block of Central Avenue after a neighbor...
Freedom Caucus says it now backs GOP health care plan
Freedom Caucus says it now backs GOP health care plan

Members of the House Freedom Caucus announced Wednesday that It will now back a Republican health care plan since an amendment that allows states to opt out of some Affordable Care Act rules has been included. "While the revised version still does not fully repeal Obamacare, we are prepared to support it to keep our promise to the American people...
Columbus Zoo mourns loss of Nanuq, his polar bear cubs still need names
Columbus Zoo mourns loss of Nanuq, his polar bear cubs still need names

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium announced today the death of Nanuq, a 29-year-old male polar bear who sired four litters at the zoo. Nanuq, who surpassed a typical zoo-kept polar bear’s lifespan by more than eight years, suffered from liver cancer and was euthanized this morning, according to the zoo’s release. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium President...
School district: No shooter at Washington state middle school, despite report
School district: No shooter at Washington state middle school, despite report

School district officials said authorities did not find a shooter at Hawkins Middle School in Mason County, Washington, on Wednesday afternoon, after deputies said they were responding to a report of an active shooter. Mason County sheriff’s deputies told KIRO7.com they received a report a shooter in the school’s cafeteria. Here&rsquo...
Madonna unhappy with biopic in works on life of Material Girl before fame
Madonna unhappy with biopic in works on life of Material Girl before fame

  Madonna has some strong words for the producers of a planned biopic on her younger years, before she hit the big time. “Nobody knows what I know and what I have seen,” she said in an Instagram post.  “Only I can tell my story.” Universal acquired the rights to a script, called “Blond Ambition,” about...
More Stories