By Dustin Ensinger
The long sought extension of Sawmill Parkway inched closer to becoming a reality Monday.
The Delaware County commissioners in a 2-1 vote approved an agreement with the City of Delaware to extend the roadway from its current terminus at Hyatts Road to north of U.S. 42.
Commissioner Ken O’Brien voted against the measure, saying he feels the county’s money could be better spent on road improvement projects near the Polaris area.
“The most congested area is the southern part of the county,” he said.
Commissioner Dennis Stapleton credited the county administration, city officials and Delaware County Engineer Chris Bauserman for their work in crafting a deal agreeable to all sides.
“I think in the end this document is a lot better than when we started,” he said.
Under the agreement, the county would front the entire $56 million needed for the project, including $18 million that it will need to borrow.
The city would be obligated to pay for 37.5 percent of the project from its municipal boundary to U.S. 42. The city would also be required to pay 100 percent of the costs of the roadway extension from U.S. 42 to its eventual terminus 1,600 feet north of the intersection.
The city’s share of the project is estimated to be $8.5 million. It would use revenue generated through a tax-increment financing (TIF) district at its expanded industrial park to repay the county.
City officials have said that the roadway extension will open up about 1,600 acres for development at its expanded industrial park.
“This is so extremely important to the City of Delaware,” Stapleton said.
The last hurdle that needed to be cleared was for the county to reach and agreement with the City of Powell and the City of Delaware on annexations and curb cuts. Under the agreement, the county will have to approve any curb cuts along the roadway.
“There were times when we weren’t sure we were going to be able to get something done,” said Commissioner Gary Merrell, who led the negotiations on the county side.
While the negotiations between the city and county intensified over the past year, the project has been decades in the making.
“The Sawmill Parkway extension was part of the county transportation plan when I started to work here 25 years ago and it was part of master planning efforts well before that,” said Delaware County Engineer Chris Bauserman. “We started the detailed planning work for the project in 2004 and have continued with detailed engineering and purchasing of land for road right of way.”
Bauserman hopes to begin construction in 2015.
“Our focus now shifts to the final design and purchase of land for the portion of the project located within the city limits,” he said. “We are hopeful that construction can start in 2015 and be completed by the end of 2016.”
Delaware City Council will still have to approve the agreement.
Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.