The clogged road to Columbus is finally getting serious attention.
The Wood County Commissioners on Thursday received an update from Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments President Tim Brown on the proposed bypass meant to shorten the trip from Toledo to Columbus.
“We got the governor’s attention, and to our surprise, he did insert language into his submitted transportation budget, to the tune of $10 million for original study money,” Brown said. “It survived the House version of the transportation budget and also survived the Senate version.”
The language had only one amendment, which Brown said is for a deadline to complete the study work by the end of 2024.
“The intention there …i s that they want it studied, they want it engineered and then they want to get it funded in the next state budget. Basically, they are giving the Ohio Department of Transportation two years to dust off one of the six prior study plans,” Brown said.
He suggested that they could do something different from the six variations that have previously been created, but in answering several questions from the commissioners, he seemed to feel that the differences would likely be very minor.
Brown praised the commissioners, and other local politicians, on their efforts, from talking with legislators to helping with letter writing campaigns, in getting the voices of Northwest Ohio residents heard.
The major issue at play is the expected population increase in Columbus. Over the next decade it could increase by 1 million, and the increased traffic from the soon-to-be opened Gordie Howe International Bridge across the Detroit River.
Brown said that the road capacity improvements will be ready before a bypass is put in. The Gordie Howe is expected to be complete by early 2025. Widening projects on I-75 through Toledo and Northwest Ohio are to be completed by the end of 2024.
TMACOG has predicted that Northwest Ohio will have a huge influx of additional freight capacity and U.S. 23 is the bottleneck. Brown said that the “artery that is clogged with 38 traffic lights, unlike any other metropolitan area in Ohio, where we have to wade through 38 traffic lights before we make it through the outer belts of Columbus.”