Study Begins on Possible SR 18 Modification
Looking ahead to future development in southern Wood County, ODOT requested and is tentatively scheduled to receive future funding of $2 million from TRAC to study possible realignment or relocation of SR 18. Mike Libigel, planning & programs administrator for ODOT District 2, said that ODOT expects new businesses and increased traffic to arise around the Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal near North Baltimore. He is putting together a committee of interested parties in the area to provide expertise and information.
Mr. Ligibel and ODOT are interested in hearing from people with knowledge of the area and a vested interest in transportation patterns in the area. Mr. Ligibel notes that an ecologist might know about wetlands in the region, a farmer might know about a nest of endangered birds or an old cemetery, and developers might have ideas for where new business will locate. An initial meeting in June attracted county engineers from Wood and Hancock counties, county commissioners, and representatives of economic development groups and villages in the area. Mr. Ligibel asked people at that meeting to look around and see if there was any interest not represented and to share the news about the committee with people who may have some knowledge or expertise that could help shape plans. People with an interest in road development in the area or with expertise that might be useful are invited to contact Mike Ligibel for more information: 419.373.4457.
The goal of the group is to look at routing possibilities, try not to overlook something that could be a problem down the road, and narrow down options. According to Mr. Ligibel, there are many choices. “We could widen the road, move it, or may learn that it would be best to leave SR 18 alone and turn attention to some other highway.” As the study period progresses, public input sessions will be held to share information and solicit comments. The initial study period is expected to last 18 to 24 months. At the conclusion, the committee and a consultant will have a preferred alternative plan and approved environmental review. Design and construction will follow.