Heath planning commission members agree the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority should extend James Parkway to Irving-Wick Drive.

Heath planning commission members agree the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority should extend James Parkway to Irving-Wick Drive.

"This is the third phase in our capital-improvements project," said Rick Platt, port authority executive director. He said the port authority has been trying to make connections and open up land to developers near the former Newark Air Force Base, which it has helped save and use as a business campus now called the Central Ohio Aerospace and Technology Center.

In 2005, the port authority extended Kaiser Drive to the west; in 2007, the port authority opened the connection of Kaiser and James Parkway. The latest extension -- about 3,000 feet -- will connect north to Irving-Wick Drive

The port authority acquired one piece of property for the project last year. The lot split with Kaiser, approved by the Heath Planning Commission on Thursday, will allow the port authority to purchase the last piece of property needed, said John Groff, chief of Heath's division of building and zoning.

The project is being funded via $885,000 in state money.

Platt said Jobes Henderson and Associates Inc. is completing engineering, and estimates on the total cost of the project are not complete.

"We hope to go to bid later this year, and construction could begin this year or in early 2009," Platt said.

He said the road opens additional property for development and improves security at the base by providing designated truck routes that are separate from public entrances. It also helps with Homeland Security issues, which, Platt said, "brings us more in line with what we should be doing."

The port authority plans to add a bike-path connection, linking the Heath recreation center at the base to the Heath City Water Park.