Long Term Project
ODOT is working on a long term project at the interchange of I-71 and US 36/SR 37. ODOT hired a consultant and is currently writing a purpose and need statement and determining the project limits.
Once this work is complete ODOT will begin researching alternatives to reach a preferred alternative. This project will use ODOT's new project development process.
Project Development Process
The new PDP compresses the process by starting the environmental work in the planning phase and starting design in the environmental phase. This will allow ODOT to have 75-80% complete plans when a project is through the environmental process. The timeline could still change based on the complexity of a project.
At what point in the process is a decision made?
- The preliminary engineering phase will determine a preferred alternative and only the preferred alternative will move forward for further detailed environmental and design work.
- The preferred alternative is the alternative that best meets the purpose and need statement as determined by ODOT and FHWA.
Will a second choice be made?
- No. Outside agencies are involved in the process early on to ensure the preferred alternative is the best.
- The preferred alternative can be tweaked, but it is unlikely the process would start completely from scratch again.
Will funding change FHWA’s decision?
- No, FHWA’s decision is based on the purpose and need statement and the preferred alternative is the alternative that best addresses the purpose and need.
- FHWA will not base a decision on the funding source (private vs public).
- The project must be fiscally constrained and contained in the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO) Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) as well as on their Transportation Plan. The MPO which includes Delaware County in its study area is the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC).
How far does ODOT look into the future?
- ODOT plans projects based on a twenty year planning horizon. These assumptions include traffic growth and commercial growth.
- ODOT’s projections are based on a certain amount of expected development and growth for the region, but the development could happen in 15 or 35 years depending on economic factors. ODOT does not want to overbuild and have roadways that are not utilized.
Is the PDP dependent on a TRAC Decision?
- This interchange project was listed on the draft TRAC list as a Tier II project with $5 million for preliminary engineering. (A Tier II status means that after the Preliminary work is done and a Preferred Alternative is selected, the project will have to go before TRAC again to be granted Tier I status. Only Tier I projects are allowed to go into Construction). The draft list will be finalized in April and the $5 million will allow ODOT to fund the first three phases of the PDP.
- There will be a future TRAC request for construction funding.
- This project will need a funding strategy to move it forward through TRAC
- FHWA will not approve the NEPA document for a project if the next phase of the PDP is not funded.
- Realistically it will be years before TRAC can fund this project, however, if local funding (public or private) is provided for this project, this will greatly enhance a project’s attributes as it is compared to others statewide.
The new transportation budget includes public/private partnership (PPP) language; does this affect the I-71- US 36/SR 37 project?
- The language in the budget is based more on tolling and alternative financing methods. However, a funding scenario by which private dollars are used is a form of PPP.
- TRAC does look at a project more favorably if it has a local contribution.
Where is the current project in the PDP?
- The project is currently 95% through the planning phase and moving to the preliminary engineering phase.
Will there be a winner and a loser?
- The decision at the interchange will be made based on the transportation needs of the whole area and take into account local and regional development issues
What will ODOT's consultant do?
- Determine the environmental issues and constraints
- Layout the various concepts and evaluate them vs the purpose and need
- Determine a preferred alternative. If there are multiple alternatives that meet the purpose and need they will be investigated further.
How will stakeholders be involved?
- It is important for stakeholders to remain engaged through the process. Stakeholders are responsible for the long term planning of the area and input will be invaluable
How will the public be involved?
- The public will be brought into the decision-making process at several points in the PDP. The public will first be introduced to the project soon after the consultant is on board after September. Then, the public will review the project’s purpose and need, the range of alternatives, the preferred and even after a preferred is chosen, several meetings will be held to further refine the design.
Why did ODOT decide to hire a consultant to complete the environmental study?
- The interchange area had been identified as one with considerable safety concerns and so the safety study was completed by ODOT in 2008? These improvements, with the level of congestion and traffic growth forecast for the location, would prove to be would prove to be short term fixes and a more robust study of the transportation problems was warranted. At the same time, developer teams had completed feasibility studies with the parameters being those improvements that could be considered development enhancements. These proposed improvements and modifications of the interchange were confined to the immediate vicinity of the existing interchange and did not take into account the entire US 36/SR 37 corridor.
- ODOT’s consultant is tasked with bringing all the completed information together into one document and filling in any holes to ensure all study elements are addressed per state and federal requirements.
How can ODOT expedite the completion of the environmental documents?
- With the work that all the local agencies have already completed, ODOT already have a jump up on the process.
- In addition, ODOT recognizes both the safety and congestion issues associated with this study area and to that end, is using this project as a pilot project for our updated PDP process. This process is being specifically designed to ensure projects like this are evaluated and developed in a streamlined manner that still ensures all the environmental and community goals/standards are upheld.
Can ODOT ask FHWA if they will approve a conditional IMS for this project?
- In short, NO. As the submitted IMS was developed for only one of the proposed interchange solutions, and as the preferred alternative has not been selected through the PDP process, ODOT would not be able to ask FHWA for a conditional IMS.
- The submitted IMS will be utilized to provide data and information for the IMS that will be completed on the Preferred Alternative.
- FHWA relies on ODOT to ensure the federal process is followed and all decisions are produced in a manner will not result in substantial rework. Having an IMS, even conditionally approved, this early in the process would not result in any alignment guarantees as it is the NEPA process’ responsibility to consider and evaluate all alternatives.
- It would be very difficult for FHWA to even conditionally approve an IMS this early in the process- there simply isn’t enough NEPA information to ensure that the IMS alignment, is the actual final alignment for the project.
What can private entities do to assist ODOT in expediting the environmental process?
- For starters, remain active with the project. Attend all necessary meetings and ensure you share your thoughts and comments on project results.
- Private and public entities can provide information on future development plans, especially as they are finalized and fiscal resources are determined. ODOT is always open to working with private entities to work toward "planned" development - whether it is through TIS development, access management, internal circulation development and local roadway tie-in points and circulation.
Can the private entities go ahead and do public meetings now?
- This is not advisable. Approaching the public too early without the right information usually results in added confusion and delay to the project.
- ODOT will provide public involvement opportunities throughout the PDP process and private entities are encouraged to participate as stakeholders and by attending the public involvement meetings.
Will or can ODOT support a project at the interchange which does nothing for the supporting network of County / local roads?
- While ODOT is not responsible for the local network beyond where it ties into the state and federal system roadways, ODOT will always take into account all levels of the roadway network in its analysis, including any future plans as may be included in a thoroughfare plan, or economic development plan, etc.