Mound Connector slated for $1 million and plans to honor Mayor Church

MIAMISBURG — A roadway connector between Interstate 75 and southern Miamisburg will get $1 million — and parts of the road will bear the name of a beloved local mayor.

“This is the earmark that is going to start this whole project,” Miamisburg Mayor Michelle Collins said Thursday, announcing with U.S. Rep. Mike Turner the Richard C. Church Jr. Connector, a project that will receive $1 million in new federal funds to begin construction.

The objective is to make travel between the Austin Boulevard interchange with I-75 and south Miamisburg easier. The route includes parts of Miami Twp.

The effort calls for upgrading Miamisburg-Springboro Pike from Medlar Road to Benner Road by expanding it to three lanes, doing the same for Benner from Miamisburg-Springboro Pike to Dayton-Cincinnati Pike, adding a roundabout at Miamisburg-Springboro Pike and Benner Road, replacing what today is an at-times congested four-way stop.

The roadabout will be an early part of the project, Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner said in a press conference at the Mound Science and Energy Museum.

Collins estimated it would be “a couple of years” before construction started.

And while Gruner said the entire project will cost about $15 million, requiring several funding sources over time, these first funds are crucial.

“This is finally the beginning of it,” Collins said.

Mayor Richard Church Jr. died in December 2022 at the age of 81, having served as the city’s mayor from 1992 to his retirement in 2019.

One of his final roles was taking the helm of the Mound Business Park, the former U.S. Department of Energy site that played a crucial Cold War role in building components for the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

When the federal government oriented the site toward closure starting in the early 1990s, Church as mayor was part of a team of local leaders who fought to ensure the site was cleaned and readied for life as a private business park, although one unique in its configuration — relatively isolated, with a series of sturdily built but mostly private buildings.

Church learned of the government’s plans for the site — then Miamisburg’s largest employer — when he was a new mayor-elect.

“That’s how I came into office,” he said in a city public affairs cable television program in 2018.

“He made certain he was not just a mayor of Miamisburg,” said Turner, R-Dayton, who served as mayor of Dayton in the 1990s. “He made certain he was a regional mayor.”

There are some 18 businesses operating at the Mound Business Park today, as well as a regional police and fire dispatch center. The idea of once more employing 2,000 people — about the size of the Mound federal workforce at one point — is a key driver of the vision behind the connector.

The park today has 191 acres of developable land, with several buildings up for lease. The hope is that the connector will draw more companies to the site.

“We hope to fill this site,” Collins said.

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