ODOT working on traffic fixes as development continues
Austin Landing is spreading south into Springboro even as plans move ahead to deal with traffic problems at and around the Interstate 75 interchange that made the initial development possible.
The developer, RG Properties, has begun meeting with transportation officials about developing about 60 acres on the south side of Austin Boulevard in Springboro.
“We hope to get moving on it this year,” RG President Bo Gunlock said.
RG just announced another restaurant has opened and a second hotel will be built in the initial 142-acre development on the north side of Austin Boulevard, just east of the interchange, in Miami Twp.
“In another 18 to 24 months, we’ll be out of property to develop up there,” Gunlock said.
In February, ODOT is to begin acquiring right of way for $1.8 million improvements at Ohio 741-Austin Boulevard intersection, expected to alleviate gridlock experienced at peak traffic periods since the interchange opened in 2010.
ODOT is also weighing other improvements at the new interchange in anticipation of additional traffic, as the nearby land continues to develop.
In addtion to RG’s developments on both sides of Austin, other new developments around the interchange will add to the traffic east into Washington Twp., west into Miamisburg, north into Miami Twp. and south into Springboro.
For example, Shiver Security Systems is the first business building in the Ascent, a multi-building office park being developed south of RG’s Springboro land by the city and Mills Development.
RG’s development on the Springboro side would be done according to a consent decree reached in 2005 by the developer and Springboro, settling a lawsuit over RG’s plan to build a Walmart there.
The decree limits RG to one service station, one “fast-food” restaurant and one 110,000 square foot anchor store.
This anchor store would be 15,000 square feet larger than the anchor in a March 2012 concept plan included with the prospectus for the Austin Landing Fund, a private offering raising as much as $64 million to complete Austin Landing developments on the north and south sides of Austin Boulevard.
The conceptual plan was included in the investment proposal, prepared by Eubel Brady & Suttman, a local investment firm. It also featured a five-building strip center anchored by a 125,000 square foot store. It also called for six one-to-two-acre out lots; a service station and free-standing retail store along Austin Boulevard and Ohio 741; and a hotel and two restaurants on the southwest side of the development.
RG officials said this was one of many plans for the land in Springboro.
In anticipation of moving forward on the Springboro side, RG met with officials from ODOT, the Montgomery County Engineer’s Office and county’s Transportation Improvement District to discuss how the developer will be permitted to access the land.
“The discussion was preliminary and didn’t determine the final access point configuration off of Austin Boulevard and Ohio 741,” ODOT spokesman Mandi Dillon said in an email.
The discussion involved how vehicles will access the property, if and how traffic signals will be used “and other details,” Dillon said.
ODOT is expected to acquire two pieces of land, but declined to identify the property owners. RG owns much of the land around the intersection.
Gunlock said RG wants to complete development on the north side of Austin Boulevard before moving south.
RG, Miami Twp., the transportation improvement district and others involved in the development are expected to invest more than $200 million on the north side of Austin Boulevard.
RG plans to meet with Springboro officials, probably in the second quarter of 2015, once the access issues have been settled, Gunlock said.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” he said. “We’re trying to do it in order.”
In late 2012, ODOT began working with consultants on a continuous flow eastbound intersection from Austin onto 741, contrary to advice from consultants hired to study the traffic problems after the interchange opened.
Continuous flow lanes are already in place at the intersection, where lanes curving northwest and southeast are designed to maintain continuous traffic flow.
Construction on the new lane is to begin in October 2016 and take about a year to complete. The project will be paid for with state and federal safety funds, according to ODOT.
However, ODOT plans to “stripe off” the new lane into Springboro, discouraging its use by motorists, pending an ODOT study of the capacity of the westbound Austin to I-75 ramp and how modifying the interchange would affect traffic on the interstate, according to Dillon.
The study is expected to determine if and how the interchange needs to be modified to handle the traffic, Dillon said. ODOT expects the study to show a second lane is also needed from westbound Austin onto I-75, she said.