Springfield road to move for base security

Base road among more than 80 projects in region.About 1,000 new road projects in Ohio this year total $2.3 billion.

A section of Ohio 794 that runs just a few feet from the Springfield Air National Guard base will close this November after it’s rerouted due to security concerns.

The $3.6 million project to relocate the base road is one of more than 80 projects the Ohio Department of Transportation District 7 will tackle during the 2013 construction season. It has five other projects slated for Clark County, totalling nearly $3.5 million.

The current road is too close to the base to satisfy post-9/11 military security standards, which state a road should be at least 82 feet from any inhabited building and at least 148 feet from primary gathering facilities.

“Back when this was all constructed this wasn’t an issue,” said Col. Gregory Schnulo, commander of the 178th Fighter Wing.

Even during a news conference Wednesday, the Air National Guard posted a security officer across the street due to concerns that people could get too close to operations.

Preliminary work has already started on the new stretch of roadway that will allow motorists to travel between U.S. 68 and Ohio 72 near the base, the Clark County Engineer’s Office said.

Since a new road will be built, Ohio 794 will remain open during the bulk of construction. Once complete, the existing roadway will become an internal part of the base, Clark County Engineer Johnathan Burr said.

The relocated road will run northwest around an Air Guard communications building under construction and a Army National Guard facility. The new section will start west of Peacock Road and connect with an existing section of Ohio 794 east of the base.

Finding money in a time when dollars are dwindling and construction costs increasing was key, said Randy Chevalley, ODOT District 7 deputy director. The road relocation project includes more than $2.9 million in federal funding and about $726,000 in state money.

The National Guard in December approved $119,000 to build a road connecting the new street to a new base entrance, which will face U.S. 68 along an older section of Ohio 794. The hope is it will be open in September, Schnulo said.

About 800 people are employed as part of the 178th Fighter Wing. It mainly handles intelligence missions and works with Predator Remotely Piloted Aircraft.

The other Clark County work this year:

• A $1.5 million project along Ohio 235 will include a two-way left turn lane along with storm sewers and sidewalks. Work will start May 20 and end in May 2014.

• About $361,000 has been allocated for the Interstates 70 and 675 interchange to replace lighting. Construction is underway and will be completed Aug. 31.

•A new $101,200 storage shed will be built at the Enon outpost to replace one destroyed by a storm.

• Milling and resurfacing will be completed on Ohio 41 along the north corporation limit of South Charleston to Ridge Road. Work will cost about $1.1 million and begin July 22 with completion near Oct. 15.

• Ohio 343 will receive structural steel repairs and bearing rehabilitation beginning in July. The cost will be about $416,390 and should be completed by Oct. 31.

In total, ODOT anticipates it will work on nearly 1,000 road projects this year, totaling about $2.3 billion statewide.

Roadwork, Chevalley said, is one of the state’s biggest economic drivers.

“For every $1 billion put in transportation you derive almost $3 billion after that and it usually creates about 35,000 jobs,” he said. “It’s just common sense as long as the roads can (continue) to be maintained and built that creates a lot of construction jobs for a lot of people.”

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