A major project that would open up more 1,200 acres of land for future commercial development off Interstate 75 has taken another step forward.
Last week, Liberty Twp. trustees adopted a resolution to have the Butler County Engineer’s Office identify a consulting firm to help explore the possibility of building the Millikin Road interchange in the growing township.
The trustees’ transportation plan has the interchange project identified as “a key goal to further enhance the Township’s regional access, and opening up the I-75 corridor in the northern half of the Township for future commercial development.”
“We’re hoping to have them (a consulting firm) on board in October or November,” Trustee Christine Matacic said.
It may take take as long as two years to develop preliminary plans, which is the start of various economic, traffic and environmental impact studies as well as the acquisition of property, she said.
It could take another five to seven years to develop the final design and construction plans, according to Matacic.
“We have to get approvals at every step of the way from the Federal Highway Administration,” she said.
The township is familiar with the long process to establish a new interstate interchange. It took about 10 years to complete the Liberty Way interchange on I-75 that cost between $41 million to $43 million, according to Matacic.
The proposed $79.9 million interchange is on the 2040 regional transportation plan that was approved in June by the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments. The plan is used to prioritize various transportation projects so that they are eligible when the county applies for the federal funding when it becomes available.
In the 2040 plan, Butler County has nearly 30 transportation and infrastructure projects listed that total at more than $400 million. The estimated cost for the proposed Millikin Road interchange is about $79.9 million and there are no timelines attached as there are no funding mechanisms in place.
“You have to start somewhere,” County Engineer Greg Wilkens said. “We’re in the early stages.”
Solicitations for consulting firms will go out this week and will take about six weeks to complete, he said.
A number of preliminary and feasibility studies need to be completed to determine the viability and layout of the interchange, to identify potential problems, and to prepare a cost estimate, Wilkens said.
Millikin Road is the only spot between Ohio 63 and Ohio 129 that has suitable spacing for an interchange, according to Wilkens. A distance of at least one mile between ramps is required by the Federal Highway Administration.
“A lot of that is putting the funding in place,” Wilkens said. “That’s the challenge with these types of projects. The preliminary plans are to get the information to start the journey.”