Traffic congestion at South Gilmore, I-275 set to be fixed in Fairfield

The city of Fairfield will improve the on-ramp to Interstate 275 from South Gilmore Road, a project that was not able to be completed when Fairfield, Forest Park and the Ohio Department of Transportation made significant improvements to the South Gilmore/Winton road corridor in a multi-year project that wrapped up in 2014. The project is expected to finish in 2022, pending City Council approval. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/FILE
The city of Fairfield will improve the on-ramp to Interstate 275 from South Gilmore Road, a project that was not able to be completed when Fairfield, Forest Park and the Ohio Department of Transportation made significant improvements to the South Gilmore/Winton road corridor in a multi-year project that wrapped up in 2014. The project is expected to finish in 2022, pending City Council approval. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/FILE

The last piece of an Interstate 275 interchange project is expected to begin in early September.

Fairfield is anticipated to award an $800,000 contract to Barrett Paving on Monday to improve the I-275 ramp at Winton/South Gilmore road interchange.

But 80% of the money will come from an Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) grant, said Public Works Director Ben Mann. He said the city asked OKI for construction funding in 2017, which was up to $784,000 of the then-$980,000 projected cost. The bid provided by Barrett Paving, deemed to be the lowest and best by staff, was $726,331. Funding is to be allocated from the city’s Street Improvement Fund. Mann is requesting an additional $73,689 as contingency funding.

Approximately $640,000 will be reimbursed from OKI, he said.

ExploreFairfield to remove South Gilmore bottleneck with road widening

The city completed improvements at the interchange and Winton/South Gilmore road corridor in 2014. However, Mann said ramp improvements were not approved at that time “because they would add traffic to the interstate during the peak hour.” This project essentially completes that improvement project, Mann said.

This $800,000 project will fix the bottleneck at Omniplex Drive and South Gilmore Road, where the right-most lane of three continuous lanes on South Gilmore from Mack Road ends in a right-turn-only lane. This project would extend that lane, giving three continuous southbound lanes on South Gilmore/Winton road between Omniplex Drive and the westbound I-275 on-ramp.

“This remains an area of high congestion and is a significant economic corridor with land for development and redevelopment available,” Mann said. ”It is the city’s desire to provide improvements through the widening of South Gilmore and the westbound (I-275) ramp that will allow for improved operation of southbound South Gilmore Road while meeting ODOT’s traffic requirements.”

The interchange improvements at I-275 started in 2011 and wrapped in 2014 cost Fairfield, Forest Park, and Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) collectively nearly $10.4 million. Improvements included increased lane capacity, improved intersections, new public utilities, and extensive bridgework over I-275. The interchange now serves as a gateway entrance to both Fairfield and Forest Park.

Columbus-based design firm Mead and Hunt in 2017 provided the city with the engineering for the improvements to be made, according to a city staff report. The Mead and Hunt meet ODOT requirements. The report indicates the study “did identify feasible alternatives and determined a preferred alternative for improvements to the westbound on-ramp and was funded by the city.”

Though Forest Park contributed to the multi-year interchange improvement project several years ago, Mann said they would not be a financial contributor to this project. OKI is funding 80% of the project, and the lion’s share of the traffic is Fairfield commuter traffic, Mann said. Forest Park officials, however, did sign off on the project, he said.

The project also received funding from the Transportation Improvement Districts in Hamilton and Butler counties, Mann said. They worked to fund the base engineering for this project, and Fairfield has been reimbursed approximately $144,000 in engineering work already performed by Mead and Hunt.