Saturday, September 22, 2007

Austin Road: Dayton's Suburban Frontier

Dayton OS has an excellent series of articles on the status of the Austin Road interchange, which promises to be a major infrastructure project in terms of its impact. The stories are mostly about funding/cost issues, but the comments go beyond that.

1. The $77M Boondoggle

2. Borrowing $25M to Reduce Risk on Austin Pike

3. Strickland Calls For Private Developer Contributions
( more about prioritizing highway infrastructure, & showing some refreshing thinking from Strickland)

What is Austin Road?

The basic idea is to construct a new interchange in I-75 between Springboro and the 75-675 interchange, at the Austin Road overpass. The project also involves reconstructing the Austin Road/Springboro Pike intersection, replacing it with an elaborate continuous flow interchange, and relocating and realigning Byers Road.

The affect of this interchange will be all along the county line to well to the east, as Austin Road connects to Social Row, which will become a major east-west crosstown route, like 725 and Spring Valley Road. To the west it will open up the area south of Miamisburg and west to the Great Miami.

This somewhat dated aerial shows a lot of the new development happening south of the mall/725 corridor,(there has been even more) with a few well known subdivisions labeled. The interchange will have the effect of reorienting traffic to the south and west, away from the I-675 interchanges and the mall area. The interchange will open up the Byers Road and southwest Miami Township areas. It might even relieve the congestion at the Franklin/Springboro interchange
Who benefits in the immediate vicinity? As far as I know an interchange was first proposed here in the early 1990s (maybe earlier?). Taking a look at land ownership from the early-mid 1990s, one sees some big players of that time: Oberer, Danis, Mead, they all had large tracts of land near the interchange site. Also some lesser known speculators , like Long Farm Investors (?), trusts, limited partnerships, a bank (the predecessor to Keybank I think), and so forth.

One can speculate on the intentions. Was the thinking, or a hunch, that an interchange would be built at this location, hence local developers and investors buying up land in the area, or was the interchange proposal a response to the real estate activity?

Note that in press reports the justification is twofold, relief of congestion by providing an alternate route to the interstate system, and economic development.

What’s also interesting is the role of local governments. The City of Dayton was a player here as they own the general aviation airport off Springboro, including clear zones and Waldruh Park. Dayton, Miami Township, and Springboro all are cooperating on development planning. Miami Township and Dayton have formed a “Joint Economic Development District”(JEDD) as a development tool, using income tax revenue from within the JEDD to pay for infrastructure improvements. The county Port Authority is buying property, as is Springboro, not just as a contribution to the interchange land acquisition, but as development landThe county Transportation Improvement District (TID) is managing the whole deal.

The idea is to develop the area around the interchange as a new buisness center, with mostly office and light industrial use. Also hotels and limited retail (no big boxes). The Dayton Buiness Journal has a good article on the plans: Austin Road Interchange to Drive Development

This agressive, highly interventionist approach to development is quite a contrast to the "no money/it can't be done" attitude toward redeveloping the Arcade downtown.

For more detail on Austin Road (including a traffic engineering plan of the Springboro/Austin intersection), at Urban Ohio:
Dayton-Springboro: Austin Road Update

For a "Critical Spatial Practice" interpretation (with lots of pix of the area):
Au$tin Road

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