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More Federal Dollars For Downtown Split

A name change for roads involved in the I-70/I-71 renovation project is expected to bring in more federal dollars for the multi-million dollar plan.

Improved safety getting motorists in and out of downtown is the main goal of the I-70/71 improvement plan. The Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission or MORPC says side streets around the freeway are critical to making access safer. That's why Assistant Director of MORPC, Nick Gill says the agency is working to reclassify streets that will link the freeway system to downtown and nearby neighborhoods. "The project has helped traffic flow better and increased safety," said Gill.

Gill explains how the renovations will help.

"To consolidate the entrances and exits to the downtown system at the edges of the freeway system as they come in and then create these surface street systems that will provide access through the rest of downtown," explained Gill.

MORPC wants to reclassify streets near the downtown split as collector-distributor streets which will make them eligible for federal highway money. Those streets include the Town-Rich Street bridge, Mound, Fulton, East Rich, East Town, South Fourth, and South Third Streets; Parsons, Hamilton, South Grant, South Washington, and East Livingston Avenues are also included in the reclassification. And a new Northbound street on the east side of I-71 (set to be named Elijah Pierce Avenue ) is also part of the plan. Assistant Director of Transportation with MORPC, Nick Gill, says the reclassification of streets will make them eligible for federal dollars during the renovation and after.

"To be clear 10, 20 years from now down the road when they need maintenance and so forth that they're on this federal aid system so they can receive the federal funds for maintenance and rehabilitation or whatever else that may need to occur on down the line," said Gill.

Gill adds the federal money will also be used to include bicycle and pedestrian access, landscaping and other improvements on the streets around the I-70/71 project. MORPC wants to hear from residents through September 10th, about what they think about the plans for the downtown freeway project.