VANDALIA — Thousands of trucks hauling goods for newly-located logistic companies surrounding the Dayton International Airport travel through and around Vandalia on a daily basis causing increasing traffic congestion.
In an effort to remediate truck traffic issues within Vandalia, the city is teaming up with Montgomery County to reconstruct and widen sections of Northwoods Boulevard, North Dixie Drive, and Lightner Road.
The $18.7 million project, known as the Northeast Logistics Access project, will provide trucks with an alternate route into the warehouse area northeast of the Dayton airport, lessening the traffic issues within the center of Vandalia, according to Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner.
The project will compliment road improvements that have taken place previously, Gruner said, including the widening of U.S. 40 near the airport to five lanes in 2020; the 2019 reconstruction of a section of Northwoods Boulevard from west of the I-75 overpass to west of the Flying J service station complex; and improvements made to Lightner Road, from I-75 west to the Chewy distribution center.
“There is a lot of logistics development work taking place around the airport, and the access has been improved considerably coming up from I-70 ... but this project is to take advantage of the Northwoods interchange and bring people around the northeast side of the airport back into the logistics area,” Gruner said. “It’s a major interest of Vandalia to get the truck traffic out of the intersection of Dixie and U.S. 40.”
Since 2010, more than 5 million square feet of light manufacturing and distribution space has been built out in an area north of I-70 and U.S. 40, mostly west of the airport, in projects that today employ more than 4,000 people.
The project will include reconstruction of a portion of Northwoods Boulevard, east from the Flying J to North Dixie Drive; reconstruction of North Dixie Drive, just south of Northwoods Blvd. up to Lightner Road, which will include widening the county’s portion of the road to three lanes; improvements of the intersection of North Dixie Drive at both Northwoods Boulevard and Lightner Road; and widening Lightner Road to three lanes, west toward the Chewy distribution center.
Improvements to the intersection of North Dixie Drive at both Northwoods Boulevard and Lightner Road may include construction of roundabouts at both locations in place of traffic signals, Gruner said, though this is not definitive.
A traffic study completed in 2019 showed over 10,000 vehicles use North Dixie Drive south of Lightner and Old Springfield roads within a 24-hour period, according to Gruner. The study found within the same timeframe, over 2,200 vehicles passed through Lightner Road east of Peters Pike, and more than 3,200 utilized Lightner Road west of North Dixie Drive.
The engineering process of the project will begin soon and continue through 2023, Gruner said, with services to be provided by Carpenter Marty Transportation.
According to Gruner, the project was awarded federal funding via the Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Review Advisory Committee, allocating federal dollars to cover 80%, or up to $1.6 million, of the project’s engineering costs. Vandalia will be responsible for around $97,000 of these costs, and Montgomery County will be responsible for around $227,000.
Additional grant funding will be applied for at each stage of the project, Gruner said.
Vandalia City Manager Dan Wendt said this project will meet multiple objectives for the community of Vandalia as a whole.
“We look at this as being a regional project that is going to improve livability in Vandalia as development takes place around the airport, (and) also help to meet the region’s economic development goals,” he said.
The Northeast Logistics Access project is part of a larger effort to accommodate recent growth in logistics operations in the area through traffic infrastructure improvements.
The Montgomery County Transportation Improvement District is seeking a $13.5 million ODOT loan to build the area’s largest traffic roundabout in Union near where Amazon is constructing a fulfillment center. The project, which will cost $16 million total, aims to ease travel for the many trucks traveling to and from not only Amazon, but Procter & Gamble, Crocs, Frito Lay and other companies that have big logistics centers in and near Union, northwest of the Dayton International Airport, north of the interchange of interstates 70 and 75.