Because none of its 236 acres would be affected, the Stratford Ecological Center has been removed as a possible active opponent to the Ohio Department of Transportation’s plan to add a new connector roadway between U.S. 23 and Stratford Road.
The project will link U.S. 23 and Stratford Road 1,000 feet north of the current intersection at Ohio 315. Both intersections will operate on a coordinated traffic signal system.
The goal is to improve safety at U.S. 23 and 315, which has a crash rate more than double the statewide average, and traffic flow.
The Ecological Center could have been a formidable opponent.
About seven years ago, the center donated its development rights to Ohio Office of Farmland Preservation. No Ecological Center land can be taken without the approval of the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Gov. John Kasich, Ecological Center Director Jeff Dickinson said.
Dickinson said the Ohio Department of Agriculture had planned to legally challenge any project that would have resulted in the loss of Ecological Center land.
The Delaware County Historical Society also has dropped its objections to the plan.
The current concept for the U.S. 23 and Stratford Road link is called Alternative F1, a slight variation of the original Alternative F. Consulting engineers have said from the beginning that the alternative promises more advantages that any other that has been considered.
A number of residents have objected to Alternative F, along with the Turkey Hill company, which has said F will remove traffic from its convenience store and gas station on Stratford Road.
One might assume that every ODOT plan that is proposed ends up being built, no matter what, but that is not the case. Many are postponed indefinitely because of a low priority amid limited funding.
About a decade ago, ODOT proposed routing Ohio 315 behind an old stone church at the 23-315 intersection, so 315 would directly abut with Stratford Road. The city had no interest in contributing money for the project, which was shelved.
ODOT has involved Delaware City in the planning process and has sought public input. The city says there will continue to be opportunities for stakeholders to have input in the project.
Alternative F1 might be likely, but it is not yet a sure thing.