NEWARK – The City of Newark plans to begin design work later this year on improvements to Thornwood Drive at the hilly intersection with West Main Street, stretching from River Road to Faye Drive.
The goal of the project will be to eliminate the steep hill around the intersection as part of the multi-community partnership to create a semi-truck-friendly economic development corridor from Ohio 16 to Interstate 70.
The corridor is a route from Ohio 16 to Thornwood Crossing, traveling on a new route avoiding the bridge over Cherry Valley Road, onto Thornwood Drive, continuing south through Heath to Ridgely Tract Road, then onto Ohio 79 to Hebron and on Interstate 70.
“It will really open up all of western Newark and all of the territory south down to Heath to have a better connection from 16 to 79,” said City of Newark Engineer Brian Morehead. “It’s really important for the economy of the community.”
The city council’s service committee approved legislation late Monday to cooperate with the Ohio Department of Transportation on the project, which is scheduled for construction in 2025-26. The full board will consider it at its next meeting.
Morehead said the design work will determine whether the city will improve the existing Thornwood Parkway or create a new road east of the existing one.
“We’re looking at both ideas and looking at the cost-benefit analysis of the best solution,” Morehead said. “The existing road cuts the side of the hill. It would take a lot of dirt to make the slopes more gentle. Is it more reasonable to build a new roadway?”
Upgrading the existing road wouldn’t make it completely level, but it would have a much improved grade, Morehead said.
The estimated cost of the project is estimated at around $6 million, but it would not be tendered for at least three years, Morehead said.
The Licking County Transportation Improvement District last month chose the Thornwood Corridor as Priority Project #2, with improvements to Jersey Township roads leading to the development of computer chips from Intel Corporation as a top priority. The state requires a ranking of projects to receive public funds.
The TID is asking for $250,000 for the Newark project, which previously received $2.6 million in federal funds as part of the Licking County Area Transportation Study.
Bill Lozier, Director of TID Projects, said there is an Intel connection to the Thornwood Corridor Improvement Project, which would make it the preferred north-south route for eastbound Intel traffic on I-70. , better than using Ohio 310, Ohio 37 or Mink Road.
Rick Platt, executive director of the Port Authority of Heath-Newark-Licking County, said the Thornwood Corridor is already used by employees of the Central Ohio Aerospace and Technology Center, which is operated by the Port Authority, as well as the other four industrial parks. in the zone.
“Intel is a future fact,” Platt said. “There is a current fact that there are businesses here in the corridor that already need the Thornwood corridor. Five industrial parks in the corridor. It is enhanced by Intel, but not dependent on it.”
North of the Thornwood Drive-West Main Street improvement is the $15 million Thornwood Crossing project, which extends Thornwood Crossing from Cherry Valley Road to Thornwood Drive, crossing Raccoon Creek and the bike path with a steel girder bridge three-span steel, allowing the city to bypass the deteriorating Showman Arch Bridge on Cherry Valley Road.
The Thornwood Crossing project begins in June 2023 and will take 18 to 24 months to complete, so it will be completed before the Thornwood-West Main project begins, Morehead said.