Columbus connectivity: TMACOG hones in on US 23


Rotary Club guest speaker, Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments President Tim Brown, focused on U.S. 23, the route between the Toledo area and Columbus, as a bottleneck that is constricting commerce between the interior of the state and Canada, Detroit and Toledo.

“U.S. 23 is a problem for us. We are the only major metropolitan area in the state of Ohio that has to wait in 38 traffic lights, before we reach the outer beltway of Columbus,” Brown said. “So it’s impeded our connectivity. It’s an important matter that you’re going to hear about from TMACOG and from the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce. You will hear things from councils, townships and counties that will pass resolutions and write letters, saying that this has to be a priority for our region. You can’t continue to let it deteriorate.”

The orange construction barrels are going to continue along Route 23, according to Brown. He said that the new Intel chip manufacturing facility will add to the problems in reaching Columbus, because access will be determined by local politicians who will be adding more traffic lights, as congestion increases on Route 23.

Brown said that eventually home rule will kick in and it will become “Delaware’s road.”

He listed off potential local issues that he predicts will arise, like curb cuts for local business owners, new traffic lights on Route 23 and new roads from new housing developments.

“The politics of how it is managed will not take into consideration our need to reach the interior of the state,” Brown added. “Eventually it will become almost impossible for us to reach Columbus, and the interior of the state in an easy way — a billion dollar fix today, or a several billion dollar fix tomorrow, if we keep kicking the can.”

Brown had justifications, beyond local Northwest Ohio business needs, for a bypass or other improvements to the roadway.

He pointed out that the Portsmouth Bypass, a new four-lane, 16-mile, divided highway on the other side of Columbus, was recently completed to address congestion, for about a billion dollars.

Additionally, the new Gordie Howe Bridge, crossing the Detroit River from Windsor to Detroit, is scheduled to open in 2024 and Brown considers it a major factor for international trade.

“That is going to be extremely beneficial for our region,” Brown said of the new bridge.

Part of that design will be lanes designated for freight.

“Another strategic rationale for this connection is obviously that trade between the US and Canada can’t easily connect to the interior of the state and beyond,” Brown said.

In addition to working with the local governments that are part of TMACOG, a new web page is in the works for adding the correspondence to politicians in Columbus, where their responses are going to also be posted.

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