Top stories of 2020: New buildings, big I-75 interchange plans in Liberty Twp.

Credit: Submitted

Credit: Submitted

Liberty Twp. has been in growth mode for some years, the township took some major steps forward in 2020 with new buildings and initial approval for the Millikin Road interchange.

Here are some of the bigger stories for 2020:

Millikin Road estimated to cost $72 million

The Liberty Twp. trustees learned in November their top priority Millikin Road interchange at Interstate 75 will cost around $72 million, and now they have to figure out how to pay for it.

The trustees received the estimate for a full interchange and improvements to surrounding roadways and that roadway system improvements alone would cost $64 million.

There are about 700 undeveloped acres slated for commercial development in the Millikin Road area, and better access to 1,200 acres would be opened up — which would hold the equivalent of 12 Liberty Centers — when Cox Road is extended to Ohio 63 and if an interchange is built at Millikin Road.

Also planning for future growth, the trustees approved an update to their comprehensive plan last week.

The Ohio Department of Transportation indicated in January that the interchange is a priority project and work could proceed. Now officials need the federal government’s approval because it is their highway.

As part of the federal government submission they must identify a funding stack.

The township finally has its own home

Liberty Twp. staff and deputies moved into the new $4.8 million administrative center and sheriff’s outpost last summer.

“We finally get our home,” Trustee Board President Christine Matacic said of the new complex.

The project’s cost including land purchase is about $4.8 million, below the estimate of $5.2 million. The township paid $954,000 for the land in an office park on Ohio 747 between Princeton and Millikin roads for the 15,000-square-foot building two years ago. Taxpayer-backed bonds are funding the building.

New fire station in progress

The township broke ground on the new fire station on Princeton Road early this year, and it is slated for completion in March.

Bids to build a new firehouse and renovate two others in Liberty Twp. came in $500,000 less than estimates. The township estimated the projects cost at $5.7 million, and six bids ranged from $5 to $5.25 million.

“Sweet, isn’t it?” Trustee Tom Farrell said about the favorable bids. “All were very, very close, normally there’s always one really, really low, one that you question quality, and one really, really high, and I didn’t see that.”

The township is replacing the “pole barn” station on Yankee Road that was built mostly for for a volunteer department, not an all-day, every-day fire and EMS staff.

Trustees approve new safety radios after grant fails

A group of 14 Butler County fire departments was hoping to receive $2 million to replace obsolete radios, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency rejected the application.

The Liberty Fire Department was the lead agency in the effort. After the denial, the trustees approved purchasing the radios, and Fire Chief Ethan Klussman said it will cost about $200,000. .

“We wish there was a better follow-through process from FEMA as to why grants get rejected,” Klussman said. “We felt that having a regional grant afforded us a pretty high likelihood ... that we would be somewhat successful, but unfortunately we weren’t.”

The departments sought the $2 million grant to buy about 530 emergency responder radios. Their contribution would have been a 10% match.

Liberty wins $1 million multi-use path grant

The township learned last summer it would receive almost $1 million for a multi-use path on Cincinnati Dayton Road.

The township won a $933,000 Highway Safety Improvement Program grant through the Ohio Department of Transportation to build the path on the west side of the road from Liberty Way to Yankee Road.

“It is phenomenal news because it’s connecting our business community with our residents,” said Trustee Christine Matacic. “It’s adding to the connections we’ve been working on since the early 1990s.”

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