Dayton airport development boom leads to US 40 changes

Enormous development growth around the Dayton International Airport that has created thousands of new jobs and increased commercial activities has fueled growing concerns about traffic.

But a multi-jurisdictional partnership is helping pay for a $12.6 million project to widen U.S. 40 between Union Airpark Boulevard and the Dayton International Airport Access Road to address the projected increases in traffic volumes as new development projects are considered.

The project, which will expand a more than one-mile stretch of U.S. 40 to five lanes, is part of a long-term economic development and workforce strategy that seeks to ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place to support future growth, said Montgomery County Commission President Judy Dodge.

“We are investing in logistics, manufacturing and distribution from top to bottom to create a more robust local economy that puts our citizens to work,” she said.

Earlier this week, the Montgomery County Board of County Commissioners approved a financing agreement with a variety of jurisdictions to help fund the local share of the U.S. 40 expansion project.

The project’s main source of funding is the Ohio Department of Transportation, which is providing $9.8 million.

But under the new agreement, the city of Dayton will pay $500,000 incrementally to support road maintenance, Union and Montgomery County will both pitch in $700,000, JobsOhio will contribute a $600,000 grant and Vandalia will chip in $200,000.

Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert said it took two years of hard work to turn this “dream into a reality.”

The infrastructure upgrades, which are expected to get underway later this year, will add a fifth middle turn lane to make it easier and safer to turn left along the busy roadway and will prevent traffic from backing up, said Steve Stanley, executive director of the Montgomery County Transportation Improvement District.

Right now, vehicles turning left can block the traffic trailing behind, causing headaches and unsafe conditions.

The project also will improve some ramps and signals.

The community has had incredible success in recent years of attracting new industrial, distribution and manufacturing investments near the airport, and there is still a lot of land in that area that can be redeveloped into new facilities with the potential to employ large numbers of workers, Stanley said.

Nearly 5 million square feet of new industrial and distribution space has been developed in that area, which includes portions of Dayton, Vandalia and Union, he said.

There are several thousand acres of vacant land that could be developed that is accessible from U.S. 40, Stanley said.

Traffic volumes along U.S. 40 are still not as high as they once were around the turn of the century, when Emery had an air freight terminal that employed a massive workforce and handled large cargo shipments, officials said.

But there has been explosive job and economic development growth around the airport in recent years that has led to increased truck traffic, and more projects are expected to come in the future, Stanley said.

The high-demand for industrial facilities in the area is not expected to fade any time soon, Stanley said.

The project is out to bid, and construction could begin in November.

The project is expected to be completed by June 2022, but it’s possible it could wrap up sooner than that, Stanley said.

U.S. 40 is expected to remain open during construction.

U.S. 40 is crucial for businesses that have decided to create thousands of new jobs on and around the airport in the last several years, said Gil Turner, Dayton’s director of aviation.

“The airport is a vital asset and a significant anchor of economic development for the city of Dayton and the region as a whole," he said.

Widening the roadway will enhance critical infrastructure and set the stage for the next phase of business growth at and around the airport, he said.

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