Olentangy Valley News

Sawmill Parkway

City, county remain at odds over extension's funding

Delaware city leaders' offer to pay 25 percent is rejected

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

A proposed 50-50 cost-sharing agreement for a portion of the planned Sawmill Parkway extension was met with some skepticism by Delaware City Council last week.

At a meeting May 13, Councilman Andrew Brush said he thinks a recent suggestion that the city of Delaware pay for half of the portion of the road extension that falls within city limits may be unjustified.

His response came after County Administrator Tim Hansley issued a letter to city leaders last week that rejects the city's prior proposal to pay 25 percent of construction costs for the road.

"We're still reviewing the proposal," Brush said. "The county's response that they want us to pay 50 percent doesn't really seem to have any evidentiary support."

Brush also said he's concerned Delaware residents would be unfairly "double-taxed" if the city pays too much to complete the project.

Negotiations between the city and county are ongoing for an extension of Sawmill Parkway from its current terminus at Hyatts Road north to South Section Line Road in Delaware.

The proposed $50-million project would make way for the expansion of the city's industrial park.

But before it's approved, officials in Delaware County and the city of Delaware must negotiate a cost-sharing plan for the city's portion of the road.

The 1.5-mile stretch within the city of Delaware would consume about a third of the project's overall budget, or roughly $15.5 million.

City leaders suggested the city pay 25 percent of that cost -- about $3.8 million -- because a study indicated just one-fourth of the estimated traffic on that stretch would originate in Delaware.

In an interview Tuesday, May 14, Hansley said the proposed 50-50 split is "fairly generous" since it's the city that has the most to gain from the new road.

"Technically, any road within the city limits we think they should build and maintain," he said. "From our point of view, offering to pay half is a nice accommodation since they have a lot to gain from economic development.

"We think we're meeting them more than halfway,"he added.

The city has taken no action on the county's proposal.

The project has been at a standstill for several years. At a recent meeting, one member of the Delaware County Board of Commissioners even floated the possibility of leaving the parkway unfinished.

City leaders said the extension of Sawmill Parkway would be an economic boon for the city, opening up about 1,600 acres of land for the expansion of the city's industrial parks, including the creation of 3,000 jobs.

It would take about 18 months to complete the road, spanning two construction seasons, according to the Delaware County Engineer's Office.

In addition to its economic potential, officials have said the parkway extension would serve as a second major north-south transportation link in the region.

Currently, adjacent roads can't accommodate the same volume of traffic as U.S. Route 23.

County Engineer Chris Bauserman said the region may face major traffic-management issues in the coming years if the parkway extension is not completed.

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