Etna Township could fund improvements to the state Route 310 interchange with state money and revenue from the Joint Economic Development Zone (JEDZ), township officials learned last week.

Etna Township could fund improvements to the state Route 310 interchange with state money and revenue from the Joint Economic Development Zone (JEDZ), township officials learned last week.

The township is hoping to participate in the Ohio Department of Transportation's bridge-replacement project in 2015 by extending improvements north on Route 310.

Chris Harkness, Etna Township's zoning inspector, said the state is funding the bridge replacement and widening the bridge at an estimated cost of $3 million to $3.5 million. The extension of five lanes with pedestrian and bicycle lanes on 310 north to Etna Parkway and improvements to the off-ramps would cost another $7.5 million.

Harkness said Etna Township is applying for $6.5 million from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. He will submit the application by the end of this month and said he hopes to hear back by November.

"The project is 100-percent contingent on that," said James Roberts, president of Jobes Henderson and Associates of Newark.

A feasibility study prepared by Jobes Henderson and Associates shows several funding options are available to raise the remaining $1 million. The township could apply for a $500,000 Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) grant, apply for a $500,000, 30-year, no-interest loan from the OPWC and apply for up to $850,000 in 10-year state infrastructure bank (SIB) loan that requires 3 percent be paid back.

Roberts said the SIB loan is the best option, even though it would require the township to pay back $98,570 per year throughout the loan's term.

"(The SIB) only turns down six out of 100 projects," Roberts said.

If the township were granted an SIB loan, he said, it could use JEDZ revenue to repay it.

The JEDZ was established on 220 acres zoned for business adjacent to the Etna Corporate Park. The site is being developed by ProLogis. Harkness said land has three buildings and plans have been made for four more.

The city of Newark collects income taxes from the property in the JEDZ because townships, by Ohio law, cannot collect an income tax. The income taxes are split as follows: Etna Township and the Southwest Licking Local School District receive 30 percent each; the JEDZ infrastructure fund gets 20 percent; Licking County receives 5 percent; C-TEC gets 0.5 percent; and Newark will receive 10 percent and another 4.5 percent for administration and collection of the tax.

Etna Township's share of the JEDZ was $56,395 in 2010 and $86,122 in 2011. It should receive an estimated $94,734 in 2012.

The JEDZ infrastructure fund, which can be used for projects in the area, collected $37,597 in 2010, $57,415 in 2011 and is expected to collect $63,156 this year. Harkness said the township can request money from that fund for the project, too.

The infrastructure fund is controlled by the JEDZ board, which is made up of two township representatives, one employee who works in the JEDZ district, one school representative, one Newark representative and one Licking County representative.

Roberts said his final report to Etna Township will be ready this week.