US 40 expansion near airport offers path through recession

Local leader see hope in $15 million road project

With the widening of U.S. 40 to five lanes in the vicinity of new businesses around Dayton International Airport, advocates of the nearly $15 million project are hoping for a clear path to economic recovery, literally and figuratively.

It starts with making traffic safer and smoother from Union Airpark Boulevard to the Airport Access Road interchange, those advocates say.

“This is a big deal,” said Terry Slaybaugh, former airport executive director and today JobsOhio vice president of sites and infrastructure.

Leaders gathered in the shadow of the Alpla Inc. plant off Concorde Drive Tuesday to formally launch the $14.9 million infrastructure project, which is meant to ease transportation in an area that already has five million square feet of logistics and manufacturing operations and more than 2,000 workers.

More are expected.

If there is a path out of the current recession, Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and others Tuesday said it would be along this kind of road.

“It takes a talented workforce to do it, yes,” said Husted. “But you can’t do it without infrastructure.”

Infrastructure has been a concern for nearly a decade as development gradually coalesced west of the airport, beginning with Procter and Gamble, and continuing with Spectrum Brands (in a facility now operated by Energizer), Chewy, Crocs, Purina and other big companies anchoring distribution centers a stone’s throw from Interstate 70.

Officials from Vandalia and Union have long had concerns about the increasing traffic in the area to and from those sites.

“I think our citizens up North here will be safer,” said Ohio Rep. Phil Plummer, R-Butler Twp.

Funding the project are an array of localities with total investment in the project from the Ohio Department of Transportation at $11.3 million, which includes $1.4 million already spent on engineering, environment and right-of-way work.

Other jurisdictions and agencies who have committed funding include $900,000 grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission, $700,000 from Montgomery County, $700,000 from the city of Union, $600,000 grant from JobsOhio, $500,000 from Dayton (paid through the Transportation Improvement District to the city of Vandalia in annual $25,000 increments to support road maintenance) and $200,000 from Vandalia

Vandalia will handle the road’s maintenance.

“These things don’t happen by accident,” said Steve Stanley, executive director of the Montgomery County Transportation Improvement District, adding that it’s “difficult it to make important things happen unless people work together.”

“Opportunities abound for the next 10 years,” declared Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

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