An agreement with ODOT approved by Dublin City Council this week will start preliminary studies that will eventually bring improvements to the Interstate 270 and U.S. Route 33 interchange.

An agreement with ODOT approved by Dublin City Council this week will start preliminary studies that will eventually bring improvements to the Interstate 270 and U.S. Route 33 interchange.

The agreement between Dublin and the Ohio Department of Transportation received unanimous approval from council on Feb. 28. It shored up funding between the two entities for the preliminary studies, which are expected to be completed by December, engineer manager Jean-Ellen Willis said.

"This is very preliminary," she said.

A partnership with ODOT brought $2-million in federal funding for preliminary engineering and environmental field studies. Dublin has agreed to pay $500,000.

Dublin started applying for grants for the project in 2009.

Willis told Dublin City Council in 2009 that there have been no "major changes" to the I-270/U.S. 33 cloverleaf interchange since it was built in 1967.

The interchange is 20 percent over capacity and is 10th in the state for freeway crashes, Willis has said.

In working with ODOT for a traffic solution, the first phase of the project will be a northbound to westbound flyover ramp that will be built over the existing highway, Willis has said.

The construction of the first phase is expected to cost $33-million, officials have said.

In other city news, council this week approved the first round of "Beautify Your Neighborhood" grants.

The new grant program has $15,000 of funding in 2011 and was created to provide "funding assistance and professional support to city of Dublin homeowners associations for high-quality, sustainable beautification projects that benefit and enhance" Dublin, the staff report said.

Applicants can apply for grants ranging from $500 to $5,000 and must offer matching funds.

Dublin received requests from Riverside Woods Homeowners Association for $1,585 to add landscaping; Park Place/Post Preserve Homeowners Association for $4,028 to fund fencing, a naturalized meadow area and other improvements; Ballentrae Community Association for $5,000 for flowers at the entrance; Muirfield Association for $5,000 to fund sign replacements; and Bryson Cove Homeowners Association for $2,124 to improve the entrance.

The community development committee recommended giving the full requested amount to Riverside Woods and Park Place/Post Preserve, give $4,000 to Ballentrae and $2,000 to Muirfield, and ask Bryson Cove to reapply.

Vice Mayor Amy Salay said she thought that the Muirfield project "really wasn't in the spirit of the beautify your neighborhood grant program."

Council members Michael Keenan, Richard Gerber and Marilee Chinnici-Zuercher disagreed and council eventually voted to follow the recommendations, but grant Muirfield $3,400.