BUTLER TWP. — Known for its host of restaurants, hotels, stores and service providers, the Miller Lane business district is set for rebranding and infrastructure improvement meant to enhance the area’s image, appeal and accessibility.
According to Butler Twp. Administrator Erika Vogel, township officials decided to give the area a new name and logo in order to “bring new energy and life to the district.”
The name “Benchwood Station” was chosen due to its prime location near the Interstate 70 and Interstate 75 intersection, which includes access from the Benchwood Road exit.
The project, with construction tentatively set to begin in 2023, will incorporate numerous changes to the area — interchange improvements, entryway signage, landscaped medians, a continuous right turn lane from Benchwood Road to head north on Miller Lane, a roundabout at Miller Lane and Maxton Road, additional lighting and street trees along the corridor, plus curb, gutter and sidewalk additions.
Butler Twp. recently contracted LJB Inc. to complete a feasibility study of Miller Lane to determine prospective roadway and streetscape improvements with four overall goals in mind — improving the safety, operation and condition of Miller Lane; improving areas for pedestrian activity and safety; incorporating new branding; and improving the district’s aesthetics.
Vogel said Butler Twp. recently applied for Ohio Public Works Commission funding to help support the project. Upon approval, Vogel said the detailed design phase will begin in early 2022, with construction slated to begin in 2023.
The entire project is estimated to cost a total of $4 million, and additional funding will come from grants and existing taxes.
“Fortunately, the district is self-funded and does not put the burden of improvements, maintenance, or services on the shoulders of the residents of Butler Twp.,” Vogel said. “Instead, the district is operated through Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts, hotel tax revenue, and a Joint Economic Development Zone (JED-Z), which allows income tax to be collected within the district.”
The improvement project will allow for additional accessibility for pedestrians, according to Vandalia Butler Chamber of Commerce President Will Roberts.
“For those who like to walk from shopping venue to shopping venue, there will be an easier, safer way to make that happen once the project is complete,” Roberts said.
Roberts said the installation of additional lighting for walking areas, wider sidewalks, and an effort to control speed limits through road improvements will provide a safer experience for pedestrians and motorists alike.
“There will be an easier and safer flow getting into the Miller Lane area, especially coming off of I-75 to help control some of that congestion that builds up from time to time,” Roberts said.
A continuous right turn lane will be installed on Benchwood Road, allowing motorists from I-75 South to exit onto Benchwood and onto Miller Lane uninterrupted.
“This will be designed in a safe way that is not going to have any negative impact on any of the businesses that are right there,” Roberts said.
A roundabout at Maxton Road and Miller Lane will provide a way to naturally increase roadway safety.
The Ohio Department of Transportation says roundabouts help to lower speeds and calm traffic, which may lead to fewer crashes. They also provide a safe U-turn option.
Roberts and Vogel both believe the improvement project will attract additional businesses to the area.
“This rebranding of that district will be another great bolstering opportunity here in the Miami Valley. You’ll see more business come into the area, and you’re going to see a brighter Miller Lane overall,” Roberts said.
A new Holiday Inn Express and Suites is nearing completion on York Center Drive, off Maxton Road, and a Popeye’s restaurant is set to open in January 2022 at the former location of Tim Horton’s on Miller Lane.