Ohio transportation planners have approved $8 million in improvements for U.S. 40 near the Airport Access Road. The interchange is a key gateway not only to Dayton International Airport but to a growing cluster of logistics companies. FILE

ODOT funds $8 million for airport access project

Final vote on project awaits next month

In a preliminary vote Thursday, the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) approved nearly $8 million for improvements to the U.S. 40 and Dayton International Airport access road interchange — a project that area transportation planners have said could fuel and sustain hundreds of new jobs.

What was announced Thursday was a "draft" list of projects to be funded, said Chris Kershner, vice chair of TRAC and executive vice president of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.

After a month of public comment, a final vote will take place Nov. 6.

Steve Stanley, executive director of Montgomery County’s TID, and airport advocates have long said the project will serve not only travelers but an ever-growing concentration of businesses.

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“Efficient roads and infrastructure access is a key economic development tool for the Dayton region,” Kershner said. “Companies like P&G, Energizer and Chewy have already taken notice, now with the expansion of U.S. 40, even more logistics and e-commerce companies will look at Dayton.”

Being able to meet with a prospective executive from the East or West coasts, and telling that exec one can get anywhere in the Dayton region, at any time of day, in about 20 minutes, is priceless, he added.

“I simply tell them, ‘That’s Dayton,’” Kershner said.

“We want to make sure the basic infrastructure is in place to anticipate future needs,” Stanley told the Dayton Daily News in 2017. “It’s going to service the whole area.”

The project had been a key proposal last year on the Dayton Development Coalition-guided annual wish list of projects that should be prioritized for local lobbying efforts.

Improving the intersection of Airport Access Road and U.S. 40 would create more than 1,000 jobs short-term, according to a project application submitted last year.

Improving “infrastructure along U.S. 40 and the interchange at the Airport Access Road and U.S. 40 … will improve access to the industrial facilities that have recently located in this area by correcting design and safety deficiencies along U.S. 40 between Union Airpark Boulevard and Peters Pike and by improving the function of the intersection of Airport Access Road and U.S. 40,” said a description of the project with the application.

TRAC had no funding available last year, Kershner said. A newly passed gas tax changed that.

“Thanks to Gov. DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly for investing in our roads; we now have money available for critical roadway projects,” he said.

In all, TRAC approved nearly $398 million for construction and development of a total of 20 projects focused on improving road capacity and reducing congestion.

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