Etna Township trustees are considering using state money to improve the intersection of U.S. Route 40 and state Route 310 and possibly the township entrance at Interstate 70.

Etna Township trustees are considering using state money to improve the intersection of U.S. Route 40 and state Route 310 and possibly the township entrance at Interstate 70.

"We're looking at enhancing our area," trustee Dick Knapp said. "The golf-course community on (state Route) 310 has a nice entrance. We want to provide traffic on 310 with something similar and use things that have a (traffic) calming effect. Landscaping can help."

Trustees met Sept 16 with Randy Comisford of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). Comisford told them state money is available for landscaping at a township gateway, but it pays for landscaping materials only, not any signs, labor for installation or equipment rental.

"The cost is 100-percent funded by ODOT," he said.

ODOT must review plans for the gateway landscaping, and the township would be responsible for paying to have those plans completed. The township also would be responsible for maintaining the site after the landscaping is finished.

"You present a plan to us, and we approve the design," Comisford said.

He said the landscaping has to be a certain distance from the road to maintain site distance for vehicles, and the state could recommend different plants that are appropriate for being in the rights of way -- plants that could withstand road salt, for example.

He said the program typically has been used by cities or villages that already maintain a portion of state rights of way.

"You're different because you're not already maintaining a part of our right of way," Comisford told trustees.

Trustee Jeff Johnson asked the township could reapply for funding in the future to replace plants or add to the site if the plans were state-funded from the beginning.

Comisford said the township has to agree to maintain the planting for five years, and it could reapply for more funding after five years.

Knapp suggested using the money at Routes 310 and 40 and at the entrance ramps off Interstate 70.

Comisford said there would be more restrictions at the intersection off I-70.

"We'd have to look at that. There's limited access there, and it's very critical," he said. "There are federal guidelines there that are different than at 310 and 40 so there may be a few more steps."

Trustee Paul George said he is not sure if the township should even consider work near I-70.

"I think we should work on (Route) 40 through Etna at each end of it, rather than (at I-)70," he said.

Knapp said the township would have to be cautious of planting something that requires a high maintenance cost. He said the township is expecting future revenues from some of its industrial developments so the trustees would have to determine what is cost-appropriate.

Comisford said ODOT District 5, which covers Licking County, has not yet done any projects using the gateway landscape program.

lwince@thisweeknews.com