Balderson, Stivers seek DOT grant approval for next phase of Ohio interstate highway project

U.S. Reps. Troy Balderson (R-OH) and Steve Stivers (R-OH) called on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to support their home-state’s grant application to complete a $1.3 billion, multi-phase interstate project in downtown Columbus.

“We urge your thoughtful consideration of this project of national, regional and community importance,” the lawmakers wrote in a Feb. 25 bipartisan letter sent to DOT Secretary Elaine Chao that also was signed by U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH).

The Ohio Department of Transportation seeks funds for the fourth phase of the Columbus Crossroads project, which aims to transform the crossroads of Interstates 70 and 71 and improve freight movement across the state and Midwest, according to the lawmakers’ letter.

The overlap of I-70 and I-71 serves commuter travel across central Ohio and freight from across the Midwest region, carrying some 130,000 vehicles per day. The crossroads currently exceeds its design capacity by 50,000 vehicles, according to the representatives.

Phase 4 would ensure the creation of additional lanes in each direction on the interstates and eliminate roughly 70 percent of the traffic lane changes made on the interchange while also removing bottlenecks and backups, they wrote.

“Phase 4 is essential to improve safety and reduce congestion for commuters and pedestrians,” the congressmen wrote. “Critically, it will also improve access to essential services and more than 100,000 jobs in downtown Columbus.”

The lawmakers requested that the DOT Secretary consider the importance of these improvements “to the prosperity of the State of Ohio and the resiliency of the national interstate highway system.”