The interchange at Interstate 71 and state Route 665 is scheduled for a $34-million makeover by 2011.

The interchange at Interstate 71 and state Route 665 is scheduled for a $34-million makeover by 2011.

City and state officials are moving fast to pass necessary legislation, acquire land and redirect roadways to get the "aggressive" highway project finished in time, said Grove City service director Sharon Reichard.

The project would widen the interchange from two lanes to five and raise the overpass five feet to accommodate taller trucks.

Grove City council members unanimously passed two ordinances July 20 to start acquiring land and authorize city officials to work with the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Council passed the two ordinances on an emergency basis so they would take effect immediately, rather than going through a normal 30-day waiting period.

Reichard said the city ordinances must reach ODOT officials by Aug. 15.

"This is not something council does lightly," city administrator Phil Honsey said. "We need to act quickly in order to take advantage of an ODOT and federal highway project that is moving pretty quickly. I can't imagine a project that's more critical than getting this done."

City funds used for the land acquisition will be reimbursed from a $10.2-million federal fund set aside for the project three years ago, Reichard said.

She said the Ohio Public Works Commission awarded a $4.7-million grant for the project. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission has committed $4-million and ODOT will bring about $10-million to the table.

Reichard said she is applying for an additional $2-million from the Ohio Department of Development.

The city has put down about $4-million for engineering, she added.

"We're paring down an 18-month process into about six or eight months," she said. "The hope is to build this in one building season. That's very aggressive."

Before work can start, roadways must be prepared adjacent to the intersection.

The city in 2008 completed an $8-million project to widen Route 665 and connect North Meadows Drive to Hoover Road.

Next, the city will relocate Haughn Road from Route 665 southwest to connect with Gateway Drive.

Reichard said the city has received contractor bids and council members should see legislation to approve the construction in August.

The Haughn Road project will cost about $1.2-million, Reichard said.

Original cost estimates made by the Evans, Mechwart, Hambleton & Tilton engineering company came to about $2-million.

The project is expected to be completed in 2009.

Officials have made the project a priority for several reasons, most related to development or safety.

Chiefly, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission expects Grove City to be the largest suburb in central Ohio in the next 10 years.

The area's population of 33,000 is expected to grow by 25,000 people in the next 30 years.

Also, Route 665 is a major thoroughfare connecting the Rickenbacker Intermodal Facility and the FedEx ground Columbus hub to I-71.

"The project is essential in our company's ability to retain and grow jobs at this facility," said Randall Bolyard, senior manager of the FedEx facility, in a letter of support for the city from the Ohio Department of Development.

The hub employs about 1,000 people.

Traffic safety is the other reason.

According to EMH&T, the bridge is "operationally and structurally deficient." It has cracks deemed unsafe by ODOT and peak-hour traffic queues stretch more than one mile onto I-71.

Engineer reports show that nearly 1,000 semi trucks use the interchange on a given business day. Also using the site daily are more than 400 Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio trucks, 400 FedEx trucks and 120 Marzetti distribution center trucks.

"It is a very big deal," Reichard said.