The Etna Township transportation task force is expanding by two members, adding Pataskala Mayor Steve Butcher and Violet Township economic-development director Joy Davis.

The Etna Township transportation task force is expanding by two members, adding Pataskala Mayor Steve Butcher and Violet Township economic-development director Joy Davis.

Etna Township trustee John Carlisle said the time is right and that adding a broader geographic interest to the board likely would Licking County's efforts to establish more access to Interstate 70.

"We're getting a lot of focus from the Ohio Department of Development and the governor's office," Carlisle said. "I think the timing is correct. They tried this 12 years ago, and it fell on deaf ears. I believe not only do we have the need, but now I think they see the need."

The effort will be focused in the near term on improvements to the state Route 310 corridor, between Etna and Interstate 70, but will include efforts to establish an additional interchange to alleviate Pickerington and Violet Township traffic bottlenecks in addition to serving the existing Pataskala Corporate Park and the coming "job-ready site" promoted by the state and currently under development in Pataskala.

"I wanted everyone at the table that this is going to impact," Carlisle said. "They have a right to have a say in what we are doing because it's going to directly or indirectly affect them as well. Everything we are doing here in Licking County is tying right into the scope of what they are doing (in Violet Township), trying to tie U.S. Route 33 into I-70."

The Etna Township transportation task force is expanding by two members, adding Pataskala Mayor Steve Butcher and Violet Township economic-development director Joy Davis.

Etna Township trustee John Carlisle said the time is right and that adding a broader geographic interest to the board likely would help Licking County's efforts to establish more access to Interstate 70.

"We're getting a lot of focus from the Ohio Department of Development and the governor's office," Carlisle said. "I think the timing is correct. They tried this 12 years ago, and it fell on deaf ears. I believe not only do we have the need, but now I think they see the need."

The effort will be focused in the near term on improvements to the state Route 310 corridor, between Etna and Interstate 70, but will include efforts to establish an additional interchange to alleviate Pickerington and Violet Township traffic bottlenecks in addition to serving the existing Pataskala Corporate Park and the coming "job-ready site" promoted by the state and currently under development in Pataskala.

"I wanted everyone at the table that this is going to impact," Carlisle said. "They have a right to have a say in what we are doing because it's going to directly or indirectly affect them as well. Everything we are doing here in Licking County is tying right into the scope of what they are doing (in Violet Township), trying to tie U.S. Route 33 into I-70."

Task force chair Dick Knapp said the group was meeting with representatives of the Ohio Department of Transportation to learn more about the specifics of applying for funding subsidized by the federal government.

"There is going to be a lot of discussion about steps we need to follow," Knapp said. "Our industrial park is growing, and it's had steady growth, despite what the economy is doing. It would be nice to see in three to five years some upgrades to state Route 310.

"We've got to do something. Of course, it's easy for us to sit back and say that because we don't know where the funding is coming from," he said. "But what we need is commitments. We want to get it on somebody's radar, get it on ODOT's radar, get it on (the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission's) radar. It's nice to see that Pataskala is interested in this and Violet Township is interested in this."

Knapp said previous studies of Etna have suggested that the Route 310 intersection would become a significant bottleneck soon.

"Back in 2007, we had MORPC do a 310 corridor study, and they felt that crucial times for the infrastructure to 'fail' (under traffic-performance standards) were around 2016, based on anticipated traffic," Knapp said.

Carlisle said the regulatory process would include environmental impacts and historic preservation studies, but he believes the Route 310 upgrades would occur in a reasonably short time.

"We're talking about getting the paper process started to widen state Route 310 to three lanes," Carlisle said. "We're probably going to hit it fast track. We're hoping things will progress in the next two to four years. These projects that go out 10, 15, 20 years - the need is now, not 10, 15 years from now. I believe ODOT is seeing this, and the Ohio Department of Development is seeing this. They're trying to put these things on fast track. My gut feeling is, within four years we'll see 310 widened."

Dick Knapp said the group was meeting with representatives of the Ohio Department of Transportation to learn more about the specifics of applying for funding subsidized by the federal government.

"There is going to be a lot of discussion about steps we need to follow," Knapp said. "Our industrial park is growing, and it's had steady growth, despite what the economy is doing. It would be nice to see in three to five years some upgrades to state Route 310.

"We've got to do something. Of course, it's easy for us to sit back and say that because we don't know where the funding is coming from," he said. "But what we need is commitments. We want to get it on somebody's radar, get it on ODOT's radar, get it on (the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission's) radar. It's nice to see that Pataskala is interested in this and Violet Township is interested in this."

Knapp said previous studies of Etna have suggested that the Route 310 intersection would become a significant bottleneck soon.

"Back in 2007, we had MORPC do a 310 corridor study, and they felt that crucial times for the infrastructure to 'fail' (under traffic-performance standards) were around 2016, based on anticipated traffic," Knapp said.

Carlisle said the regulatory process would include environmental impacts and historic preservation studies, but he believes the Route 310 upgrades would occur in a reasonably short time.

"We're talking about getting the paper process started to widen state Route 310 to three lanes," Carlisle said. "We're probably going to hit it fast track. We're hoping things will progress in the next two to four years. These projects that go out 10, 15, 20 years - the need is now, not 10, 15 years from now. I believe ODOT is seeing this, and the Ohio Department of Development is seeing this. They're trying to put these things on fast track. My gut feeling is, within four years we'll see 310 widened."