State panel approves $8 million for Dayton airport access work

In a preliminary vote last week, 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 say can fuel and sustain hundreds of new jobs.

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

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

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In all, TRAC approved nearly $398 million for construction and development of a total of 20 projects across Ohio, with the goal of improving road capacity and reducing congestion.

The Montgomery County Transportation District (TID) last year had initially sought $9 million to improve roads leading to the cluster of logistics companies growing near Dayton International Airport.

Steve Stanley, executive director of Montgomery County’s TID, and airport advocates have long said the project will serve not only travelers but that 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.”

Telling a curious business executive from the East or West coasts that one can get just about anywhere in the Dayton area 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 this news organization in 2017. “It’s going to service the whole area.” (A message seeking comment was left for Stanley Friday.)

This 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 as part of that coalition process.

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. Thanks to the gas tax passed earlier this year, there has been a new infusion of money.

“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.

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