"Building Towards Butler County's Future"
The Butler County Transportation Improvement District -- created in 1993 to provide local leadership for the area's languishing road projects -- is proud of its accomplishments. The record includes building the Fox Highway (Ohio 129), creating Union Centre Boulevard and its I-75 interchange, extending and upgrading Muhlhauser Road, connecting Symmes Road and Union Centre Boulevard and smaller highway improvements.
The Butler County TID -- Ohio's first -- was designed to cut bureaucracy and reduce the time and cost of transportation construction. It has done that.
TID board members also are aware that much more must be done in the interest of safety and economic development. During recent meetings, while reviewing several worthy proposals, the board has pinpointed three projects as priorities for the board and the TID staff, headed by a new director, Rick Bailey.
The board is mindful that it can't take full credit for its successes. In fact, the TID is based on a premise of cooperation. Voting board members -- who serve without compensation -- are appointed by the cities of Hamilton and Fairfield, the Butler County commission and trustees in Fairfield, Liberty and West Chester townships. The Butler County engineer also is a voting board member.
TID accomplishments have been based on the unselfish support of local governments, in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments and other agencies. That coordination -- plus public interest and encouragement -- will be needed if the TID is to complete its three priorities. In brief, they are:
Priority 1 -- Liberty Interchange.
That name has been adopted by the TID board for the proposed eastern extension of the Fox Highway (Ohio 129) from its present terminus at I-75 to Cox Road in Liberty Township. Factors pushing this plan to the top of the list include development pressures and opportunities, plus the need to relieve congestion on existing roads in that booming area. Local financing is available to pay for construction.
The major obstacle is the prolonged wait for completion of an I-75 corridor study that is under the direction of the Ohio Department of Transportation. The Liberty Interchange is one of several proposals at the mercy of that process. According to present estimates, the study won't be completed until 2003.
Only vision and leadership in Columbus can expedite the project. The longer it takes to get started, the more difficult and more costly it will be to convert the connection of Ohio 129 and I-75 to a full interstate interchange. Delay also is likely to dampen economic development in that area -- activity that promises to benefit the entire county and state, not just the Liberty Township.
A recent study by the University of Cincinnati Economics Center for Education & Research estimates developing the interchange will trigger creation of 15,100 new jobs and $12.4 million in additional property tax income and $2.4 million in income tax.
Priority 2 -- Ohio 747 widening.
Ohio 747, with only two lanes, was one of the original TID projects, but only a part has been improved. The remainder was to be financed by bonds based on tolls proposed for the Fox Highway (Ohio 129). That revenue source was lost when tolls ceased to be an option.
Meanwhile, development continues along the north-south roadway in Liberty and West Chester townships. Traffic and congestion are increasing -- and so are safety concerns.
Much could be accomplished if ODOT will designate surplus funds raised for Ohio 129 for use in widening Ohio 747 from Tylersville Road north to Ohio 129 and Princeton Road.
Priority 3 -- Ohio 4 Bypass widening.
Leaders in the cities of Hamilton and Fairfield and Fairfield Township and Butler County commissioners agree that the bypass is congested. The situation promises to worsen as commercial and residential development continues along that corridor.
Much of the needed right-of-way for widening is available -- thanks to foresight before the existing two-lane road was completed in 1970.
Because 747 and Bypass 4 are state highways, ODOT and OKI permission and support are required, as are financial commitments from local governments.
The TID board emphasizes that there are numerous other transportation needs that require attention in Butler County, not just the three identified as priorities.
The board will continue to receive, review, plan and promote other projects as the TID strives to meet its original mission statement: "To provide creative opportunities for expediting transportation system improvements, promoting economic development and enhancing the quality of life in Butler County."
Last Updated: November 3, 2008