The Ohio Transportation Review Advisory Council on Dec. 9 approved spending $5-million for a preliminary engineering study around the I-71 and U.S. Route 36 interchange in Delaware County.

The Ohio Transportation Review Advisory Council on Dec. 9 approved spending $5-million for a preliminary engineering study around the I-71 and U.S. Route 36 interchange in Delaware County.

Sunbury village officials received notice of the approval, which also covers an environmental impact study, village administrator Dave Martin said.

Ohio Department of Transportation officials in August asked TRAC to fund the study to determine if adding an interchange north or south of the I-71 and U.S. Route 36 intersection is needed.

Private developers want the intersection to become "the centerpiece of Delaware County."

In an e-mail, developer Pat Shivley wrote, "Without substantial modifications, which are necessary to alleviate existing, significant problems at the current I-71 and U.S. 36 interchange, development in this area might not happen at all and the community would lose the jobs and tax revenues that accompany the well-executed development we envision."

In addition to the TRAC investment, Delaware County officials paid Chicago based BaxStarr Consulting Group $40,000 to put together an economic impact study.

Martin said BaxStarr would study what happens "if that development occurs with either a north or south interchange being added to what's there now."

Martin said that would include finding out how much money the county would get from sales and income taxes and how many jobs would be created in the area with the additional development.

BaxStarr plans to have a first draft of the economic study completed in February.

Martin estimates the $5-million TRAC funded engineering study wouldn't get started for another eight to 12 months.

ODOT representative Brian Hedge told ThisWeek in August that ODOT already plans to upgrade the I-71 and U.S. Route 36 interchange in 2012.

Those plans include widening ramps, adding more turn lanes and upgrading traffic signals at the interchange.