Exit 68 plan eludes Council

Beautification ideas discussed — again.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com.

It’s no secret that Tipp City council members don’t like the looks of Exit 68 interchange on Interstate 75.

What the city and the council are willing to do about it, though, remains unclear.

The council has listed beautification of Exit 68 in its strategic plans, saying the maintenance and mowing of the right of way by the Ohio Department of Transportation has declined. Concerns also have been aired over trash accumulating on the property.

Council most recently discussed the interchange and possible improvements at a June 6 work session.

Brad Vath, assistant city manager, at that session outlined for council proposed plans for the interchange including the Main Street (Ohio 571) bridge over the interstate outlined in a 2000 city streetscape study.

Vath said the original cost estimates had not been updated making them “way out of date.” He also briefly outlined interchange improvement projects implemented in Sidney, Piqua and Troy in recent years. The Troy Ohio 41 interchange now is maintained by a group of local landscaping companies while the others are maintained by the cities.

Among the streetscape proposals was replacing a chain link fence along the interstate overpass bridge with a metal picket-type fence type along with a Tipp City identifier sign incorporated in the fencing.

City Manager Tim Eggleston said cost estimates for that type of sign would be obtained for council’s review down the road.

During the discussion council was reminded that ODOT now handles the maintenance of the interchange. If the city would want to make changes, they would have to be approved by ODOT, and after they were made, the maintenance responsibility would lie with the city.

Councilman John Kessler said he could not support an interchange project because of the future maintenance costs to the city. The maintenance would involve “money we could use elsewhere,” Kessler said.

“I think there are things way ahead of this for us to pay for,” Councilman Matt Owen said. He added that he would like something “more permanent” such as the sign on the bridge.

Councilwoman Katelyn Berbach asked if any studies had been done about the impact of an interchange’s appearance on attracting people to a community.

“Personally, I could care less what the exits look like getting off the highway,” she said. “Once I get into town, then I start noticing.”