Transportation projects given ‘priority status’

Nine local transportation and government projects were granted highest priority last week by the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission’s board of directors, meaning local officials will lobby for federal funding to get them moving.

The projects come from the region’s Priority Development and Advocacy Committee, guided by the Dayton Development Coalition, which establishes a consensus list of regional priorities.

The six transportation projects that were scored as “priority projects” by MVRPC’s board were, from highest score to lowest:

• Interstate 70 widening in Clark County

• Land acquisitions for U.S. 35 interchange work in Greene County

• Dayton bike share project

• I-675 Wilmington Pike interchange in Centerville

• Reconstruction of the Ohio 73-Ohio 741 intersection in Springboro

• Kauffman Avenue widening in Fairborn.

All of those projects are seeking between $1 million and $6 million in funding, except for Clark County’s I-70 project, which seeks $42.9 million, according to MVRPC documents.

“We maintain the region’s transportation plan, so we want projects that are submitted as the region’s priorities to also have a scientific need based on that plan,” said Brian Martin, executive director of the MVRPC.

The other three transportation projects received lower grades, and were labeled “recommended projects.”

On the government services side, only three of the 14 projects received priority status – sanitary sewer work at Dayton International Airport ($3 million requested), digital radio upgrades for Dayton and Montgomery County ($11 million), and Taylorsville Dam repairs ($6 million).

The digital radio project was the only one to attract significant discussion, as Greene County Commissioner Bob Glaser argued that it shouldn’t qualify for funding through the PDAC process. Glaser argued that since all jurisdictions will need to make the digital transition, it is more of an operational expense. But MVRPC staff said the application met the group’s guidelines, and Glaser was the only board member to vote against it.

Martin said the Dayton Development Coalition will lobby for federal funds for these and other projects on its annual fly-in to Washington, D.C. this year.

“There aren’t earmarks (for spending) the way there were 7 or 8 years ago. It used to be your senator or your rep could attach a project, but it just doesn’t work that way anymore,” Martin said. “This is a wish list, and you hope. You talk to Mr. Boehner, Representative Turner, all of our folks, and hopefully if they have the opportunity, they’ll remember that we have this list. They’re really good about it. Everybody pitches in and looks out for the region.”

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