Improved access to Rickenbacker International Airport remains a top priority on the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission's list of competitive-advantage projects.

MORPC collaborates with Columbus 2020 in working with local government leaders and businesses to develop a list of infrastructure projects every two years that is regularly shared with the Ohio General Assembly and Congress.

"Development in the Rickenbacker area, starting around 1995 with the opening of the Eddie Bauer facility, has been rapid and nearly nonstop," Groveport finance director and Assistant City Manager Jeff Green said. "The transportation infrastructure in the area, however, has struggled to keep up with the demands of this rapid growth and constantly increasing traffic."

The airport is described on its website as "a world-class, cargo-dedicated airport in the middle of the largest concentration of North America's population."

MORPC's list of projects for the Rickenbacker area includes widening Alum Creek Drive from four to six lanes -- with complete street facilities -- from Groveport Road to state Route 317 at an estimated cost of $35.2 million.

Green said improvements along the Alum Creek corridor would help decrease congestion on state Route 317 (Hamilton Road) and allow for continued development.

However, no money is allocated for any of the 43 priority projects on this year's CAP list that are in 10 counties with a total estimated cost of more than $5.2 billion.

MORPC describes the widening project as "shovel ready," meaning construction could begin in a short time if funding becomes available.

"We're always looking at what we can do next," Groveport City Councilman Ed Dildine said. "We've always let MORPC take the lead on projects like this, and it's great that they're looking at it."

Other projects listed under the heading of "Rickenbacker Area Access" include: constructing an interchange at U.S. Route 23 and state Route 762 ($28 million); extending Rickenbacker Parkway from its current terminus to accommodate additional development ($60.2 million); converting U.S. Route 23 to a limited-access freeway from I-270 to state Route 317/state Route 665, with the eventual goal of extending limited-access to the Pickaway County line (as much as $30 million); and realigning the "S" curve on state Route 665 between U.S. 23 and state Route 104 (as much $14 million).

The benefits of the projects, outlined by MORPC, include:

* Strengthening long-term growth and economic sustainability for the Rickenbacker area, which the agency calls a key asset of the North American International Freight Center.

* Increasing traffic capacity on Alum Creek Drive, a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation-designated National Primary Freight Highway System and a National Highway System Intermodal Connector Route linking to Rickenbacker International Airport and Norfolk Southern's intermodal rail facility.

* Supporting new and existing businesses by reducing traffic congestion, improving travel time reliability for shipments and workforce.

* Leveraging more than half a billion dollars in public and private investments in the Rickenbacker area.

"Obviously, many, if not most, of the projects listed in the CAP directly impact Groveport, and it's probably important to point out that as a partnering organization, the city provided funding for the study," Green said.