The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission on March 23 announced that it would like public comment by April 1 on employment and population projections relevant to Delaware, Fairfield and Licking counties, including Pataskala and Etna Township.

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission on March 23 announced that it would like public comment by April 1 on employment and population projections relevant to Delaware, Fairfield and Licking counties, including Pataskala and Etna Township.

MORPC's transportation plan, which projects through the year 2035, includes highways, public transportation and pedestrian and bike paths.

"MORPC uses that information to predict the distribution of population and employment in the future," said Nancy Reger, MORPC deputy director of transportation.

Etna Township's population is expected to nearly double, rising to more than 16,000 from the current 8,700, and Pataskala's is expected to increase by nearly 60 percent, from a current 37,000 population to 58,000 by 2035.

"I looked at their plan for the (state Route) 310 corridor plan back in October, but I've not seen any draft since then," Etna Township trustee John Carlisle said. "I've not seen the population projections."

Carlisle said MORPC's figures are low, saying recent Census data showed that the population of the unincorporated area of Etna Township is more than 10,000.

Still, he said, Etna should be part of MORPC.

"The Taylor Road widening is an example," he said. "That's a $3.5-million project that we would have always wanted but never got if we had not been in MORPC. We had 21 out of 26 residents sign our petition for that, granting us right of way. That demonstrates the residents put their money where their mouth is."

Carlisle said the short-term transportation priorities in Etna Township are for Taylor and Summit roads; the intermediate-term priority is state Route 310; and the long-term priority is a new interchange on Interstate 70 to give the township and Pataskala's job-ready site freeway access.

"If we end up with manufacturing coming in with 2,000 or 3,000 jobs, I think we'll be pushed to the front of the line pretty quick," Carlisle said. "Do we think an interchange will happen in the next 10 years? Probably not. But that does not mean it won't happen. If someone buys 1,500 acres for 2,000 jobs, it's going to open up real fast."

The MORPC transportation plan and population projections are available online at www.morpc.org/transportation/capitalways/capitalways.asp.

Comments are requested concerning the prepared population and employment projects and should be sent to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), 111 Liberty St., Suite 100, Columbus, 43215, Attn: Nancy Reger. The deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, April 1.