The story expected to dominate the Worthington news in 2013 is the beginning of construction on the I-270 and U.S. Route 23 interchange.
With that in mind, the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce has added officials from the Ohio Department of Transportation to the list of speakers at the annual Groundhog Day breakfast, to be held this year on Friday, Feb. 1, at the Brookside Country Club.
How upcoming highway interchange construction may affect Worthington businesses and residents will be part of the forecast.
Chamber members and others are invited to sign up for the event, which will begin with check-in and buffet breakfast from 7 to 7:30 a.m., followed by the program, which will end at 9 a.m.
The program again will include speakers from the city, schools and library, but they will be joined this year by ODOT officials, who will address the many issues surrounding the realignment and reconstruction of the local interchange.
Planning for the project has been on the books for nearly a decade. A year ago, ODOT announced it would be postponed for up to 20 years, but then ODOT officials changed their collective mind after receiving an outcry of complaints from residents, businesses and various public officials.
Now construction is to begin this summer and be completed in 30 months.
The busy exits and entrances, with their many crossover movements, are said to create one of the most dangerous stretches of roadway in Ohio.
The project will include redesigned ramps, a trench to be built on U.S. Route 23, north of I-270, and the widening of Route 23 both north to Flint Road and south to Wilson Bridge Road. The finished product also is expected to include new aesthetic touches, such as a "Worthington" sign on the bridge over I-270 and new sidewalks, lights and signs.
Ferzan Ahmed, ODOT's District 6 deputy director, and Leslie Montgomery, ODOT traffic engineer and the project's manager, will offer the latest details on the project.
An event theme of "Work Ahead: Navigating 2013" features the familiar orange barrels that signal construction. Volunteer Energy is the presenting event sponsor.
Public officials sharing their predictions for the year will include Matt Greeson, city manager, and Jeff Harris, economic development manager, from the city of Worthington; Thomas Tucker, superintendent of Worthington City Schools; and Chuck Gibson, director of Worthington Libraries.
The speakers will summarize key accomplishments of their respective organizations during 2012 and discuss issues facing those public institutions and the potential impact on area businesses in the immediate future.
Kathryn Paugh, chamber executive director, will share survey data indicating how chamber members view the economy and how their businesses are faring, compared to last year at this time.
The public is encouraged to attend. Reservations may be made by calling the chamber at 614-888-3040 or by registering online through the calendar of events on the chamber's website: worthingtonchamber.org.
The cost is $25 per chamber member and $30 for others. The registration deadline is Wednesday, Jan. 30.