Delaware County commissioners on Monday accepted an Ohio Department of Transportation plan for U.S. Route 36 between Delaware and Sunbury.

Delaware County commissioners on Monday accepted an Ohio Department of Transportation plan for U.S. Route 36 between Delaware and Sunbury.

Commissioner Todd Hanks said the plan, which was completed over three years at a cost of $190,000, was a template for development.

"The study is one of the most comprehensive pieces of useful information I've ever seen," Hanks said. "It lays out a patchwork of development that can proceed from the city to I-71. It's a living plan that can change as the landscape changes. It's a great template."

The plan would change the current roadway by removing traffic lights in some places, adding them in others, and preventing new "curb cuts" or access points.

This forces new roads to be built off the network of intersections so that access can be provided to land that otherwise would have to have a direct access point in the corridor.

Commissioner Ken O'Brien said he was especially concerned whether the county had the resources to implement the plan, which would require an entire network of roadways to be built on the north and south sides of U.S. 36. (See related story on page A1.)

He also said the interchange with Interstate 71 needs to be improved.

"My concern is that, for this to be implemented, you need to have the interchange at I-71 constructed in a way to handle more traffic, so you can have larger businesses in this area," O'Brien said "If you're going to limit curb cuts, and then have back roads, you have to have businesses that can fund that. The back roads are built by the businesses. You've got the interchange, you've got to have the lights built and that's all developer driven. The state of Ohio is not going to pay for that."

The plan is an access management plan prepared by Gahanna consulting company Tetra Tech for ODOT's District 6. Traffic is expected to grow substantially with development and a new interchange at Interstate 71.

County development director Gus Comstock said the plan is designed to prevent poorly planned commercial areas, such as Morse Road in Columbus and U.S. Route 23 between Delaware and Columbus.

"Traffic congestion is a deterrent to economic development," he said.

Hanks said it is important to avoid such congestion.

"What you have with U.S. 23 is a lot of hodgepodge of roads, which causes delays and slowdowns," Hanks said. "This (plan) says you should have intersections here, here and here, with feeder roads on the south side or the north side of the property."

No existing direct access to the road would be eliminated without rezoning, but several access points would be converted to right-in, right-out access, to prevent left turns across traffic.

Comstock said interstates and U.S. highways are essential for business.

"You had a Kroger distribution center located in Delaware on the understanding that they had direct access to Interstate 71," Comstock said. "They know people aren't going to be putting curb cuts in to slow traffic down. There's a lot of development pressure to allow (curb cuts), but this is ODOT saying we're going to restrict that."

Hanks said the plan would frustrate some landowners who would prefer to have access to an already familiar, high volume road, but controlled development is a blessing.

"To be one of the top 25 fastest-growing (counties in the United States), this is one of the good problems to have," Hanks said.