Etna Township trustee John Carlisle met July 21 with four volunteers for the initial meeting of a committee to lobby for an interchange on Interstate 70, near the Etna Parkway industrial park.

Etna Township trustee John Carlisle met July 21 with four volunteers for the initial meeting of a committee to lobby for an interchange on Interstate 70, near the Etna Parkway industrial park.

A new intersection would relieve traffic on Taylor Road and open up development in the area, the corporate park and job-ready sites in the township and would alleviate pressure on state Route 310 through Etna and Pataskala.

"Residents don't want to split Etna proper with five lanes of traffic down state Route 310," Carlisle said. "Do I think 310 needs to be widened? Absolutely. To five lanes? Absolutely not. I think it will split what little is left of original Etna."

Carlisle said the interchange also would relieve traffic snarls on Taylor Road.

"We've got issues starting from the western end of the township at Taylor Road," Carlisle said. "There's 15,000 cars a day that go through that intersection of Taylor and Palmer. We've already applied for 'stimulus' funds to widen that to three lanes."

Committee member Rob O'Neill suggested caution, saying highway funds are scarce and interchanges are expensive.

"My opinion of this is, there never seems to be enough money or funding or viable revenue to fund an interchange," O'Neill said. "There is no dispute that a new interchange brings all kinds of activity. But we've never been able to figure out the funding to pay for it, and I don't know if anything's changed on that."

"There may be more funds out there than we are even aware of," Carlisle said. "It might take getting our state representative or United States representative or United States senator involved, that this needs to be done for economic development reasons."

Carlisle said the state has worked to bring in economic development with ProLogis and Coty Beauty Products and that previous reluctance to provide highway access might have changed.

O'Neill said it would be important to continue to address congestion at Route 310, even if an interchange isn't built.

"Growth is starting to occur, and as that occurs, you have a choking point at 310, for traffic and the growth of this area," O'Neill said. "If nothing is done - and we're working toward putting an interchange in - you've got a problem that's not getting addressed at 310. If that interchange becomes a distraction from solving problems at 310, that's a problem. You'll be choking off growth you need to fund that interchange."

"We're on the same page," Carlisle said. "310 is our immediate goal."

Carlisle said the key factor for any company looking to move to the area would be freeway access.

"That's what they want to know: How are we going to get our trucks in and out?" Carlisle said.

"When you get into a competitive situation with other sites and other communities, the selectors are looking for reasons to eliminate sites," O'Neill said. "I'm afraid we can lose out when they start looking at the transportation. Even though we have a new road, you still have Route 310 that hasn't kept pace."

Ohio Department of Transportation representative Susan Wyant would be the ODOT liaison to the committee, Carlisle said. In addition to Carlisle, the members of the committee include chairman Dick Knapp, vice chair Judy Brachman, O'Neill, and Brian Marsh.