CLERMONT COUNTY – The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) released a final statewide list of approved major new transportation capacity projects earlier this month totaling nearly $400 million dollars in infrastructure investment for the construction and development of 20 projects. One of those projects will be a major upgrade to Clermont County’s Eastern Corridor Segment IVA along the Appalachian Opportunity Corridor State Route 32.
ODOT’s Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) approved funding for a $61.2 million investment in right-of-way costs and construction costs for intersection and interchange improvements along a two-mile section of SR 32 in Clermont County.
“Providing a faster, safer and more predictable drive time to the Cincinnati market will remove risk from companies considering investing in new facilities,” said Andy Kuchta, Clermont County Director of Community and Economic Development. Kuchta said, “This is great news not only for Clermont County, but for communities to our east that utilize SR 32. Companies will now be more likely to invest in Appalachian communities because they can better predict cost of transportation and attract talent from a larger pool of workers.”
This project improvement to Ohio SR 32 will significantly reduce congestion, dramatically improve safety and connect more people to more jobs. One of the benefits of improving the flow of traffic along this route is the connection to South Afton Industrial Park, which is the only SiteOhio-certified “Shovel-Ready” site in SW Ohio with 192 acres prime for development. The SR 32 improvement project is also a major upgrade adding value to the transportation corridor leading to the Mt. Orab mega site of 1,000 acres. The economic impact of the TRAC project will see an estimated return on new private real property investment in Clermont County from increased retail, healthcare, and manufacturing activities.
In addition to economic growth, the project will also help with highway safety. Two intersections on the existing SR 32 corridor that are scheduled for upgrades through this project are currently on the governor’s Top 150 list of the most dangerous intersections in Ohio.
Andy Kuchta mentioned the importance of the partnership of project sponsors, local governments, and regional partners who worked to see this project proposal rise to the top and be added to the funding final project list.
Kuchta said, “We had such strong support across different sectors, including support from our legislators and letters from every county along the Appalachian Opportunity Corridor of SR 32. It is our hope that communities and counties east of our SR 32 will recognize the impact our proposal had, because of their support.”
The Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (OVRDC) Executive Director John Hemmings echoed Andy Kuchta’s emphasis on the potential to build on this project’s success for the entire Appalachian Opportunity Corridor and the surrounding counties.
Hemmings said, “OVRDC is a designated Rural Transportation Planning Organization, and we believe this project will improve travel time and safety along SR 32. For the proposal, we gathered letters of support from all the eastern counties along the Opportunity Corridor to show not only collaboration, but coordination. OVRDC’s member counties recognize the value of this for our region. Working together on projects like this will reduce drivetime to a major market and stimulate economic growth for everyone.”
In addition to the funding from ODOT, matching funds will total $10 million with Clermont County contributing approximately $5 million of the matching funds.
“The project will improve traffic flow, increase safety, and has the potential to move the Cincinnati economy further east to Brown, Adams, Pike, Jackson, Meigs, Athens and Washington counties,” said David Painter, president of the Clermont County Board of Commissioners. Painter said, “The additional funds shorten the construction schedule duration, allow multiple activities to be worked concurrently, and save taxpayer money by avoiding escalation costs.”
The Clermont County TRAC project will focus on major improvements to the Ohio SR 32 corridor in the Eastgate area and beyond. The Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC), which advised ODOT, approves funds for new transportation projects that cost more than $12 million and are designed to expand a road system’s capacity to handle traffic and reduce congestion.
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The Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (OVRDC) is a regional partnership agency dedicated to the development of Southern Ohio and proudly serving Adams, Brown, Clermont, Fayette, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto, and Vinton counties with economic and community development, project development/coordination/finance, transportation planning, mapping and data resources, and small business gap lending. For more information visit www.OVRDC.org or call (740) 947-2853.