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Public hearing set on Ohio 444 project

Residents will get an opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns about the relocation of a mile-and-a-half stretch of Ohio 444 during a public hearing today.

The Ohio Department of Transportation will facilitate the meeting.

The reroute of Ohio 444 – which is designed to enhance security around Wright-Patterson Air Force Base – is expected to take place in early October, the city said.

The current Ohio 444 will close at Dayton-Yellow Springs Road. The new Ohio 444 will then begin at the Dayton-Yellow Springs Road and Kauffman Avenue intersection, continue along Kauffman to Central Avenue and west onto Dayton Drive.

The Ohio 444 relocation has been a controversial topic among Fairborn residents and business owners since the Air Force revealed its intentions more than two years ago to shut down that stretch of road that serves the city’s business district.

“This won’t go without the challenges of rerouting and traffic flow,” said Pete Bales, the city’s public administrative services director. “Obviously, there’s going to be a learning curve getting around the city in a different direction. It will have a positive economic impact on the Kauffman Avenue corridor. All of this is going to be a situation where we’re going to put the best management practices into place.”

There will be no cost to the city at this time, city officials said. The portion of Ohio 444 that will be closed off – which currently bisects Area A – is on federal land.

City Manager Deborah McDonnell said ODOT will fund the restriping of the road, while city staff will handle the resignalization of the three intersections: Dayton-Yellow Springs/Kauffman; Central/Dayton; and Dayton/Broad Street.

After the reroute, ODOT will conduct more studies to measure the success of the restriping and resignalization.

ODOT project manager Jay Hamilton said it could take up to three months “after the base closes 444 before we have a handle of what we need to do.”

“The good part is, we’ll go into it with a better handle on it when the traffic has settled in so we’re not overbuilding or underbuilding,” Hamilton said.

Further construction work – such as widening the road, creating additional turn lanes or even acquiring properties – could be done, and Hamilton said the issue is going to be funding if “millions of dollars” are required to make the necessary improvements.

“We want to make sure we’re spending taxpayers’ dollars as wisely as possible,” McDonnell said. “Rather than make a large number of assumptions about traffic, we want to work together to monitor the traffic and monitor the intersections to ensure the design of those intersections is done properly the first time and not spend any more money than we really need.”

The project will bring the WPAFB perimeter fence across Ohio 444 behind the Exxon Mobil Gas Station at the Ohio 444 and Dayton-Yellow Springs Road intersection. Access to the gas station will not be affected.

A new gate, which will become the new Gate 1A, will be built on Ohio 444 adjacent to the commissary.

“This project will join Area A and Kittyhawk and provide for needed security enhancements,” Mark Mays, 88 Civil Engineer Directorate, said in a statement. “The closure of a portion of Ohio 444 will enable the construction of a new Gate 1A with prescribed security features.”

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