Friday, October 17, 2003

Support grows for Liberty connector

By Perry Schaible
Enquirer contributor

LIBERTY TOWNSHIP - Officials and nearby property owners are giving the green light to a plan for an extended Interstate 75 interchange in Butler County.

At a "stakeholders" meeting Thursday, there was support for an estimated $42.6 million interchange project at Hamilton-Mason Road in Liberty Township, east of I-75.

A bridge now goes over the highway on Hamilton-Mason between Cox Road and Cincinnati-Dayton Road. Motorists now can only exit I-75 in Liberty Township via the Michael A. Fox Highway to go west, toward Hamilton.

The proposal backed Thursday includes a five-lane extension of Cox Road to Ohio 63 at the Monroe line.

Residents can view the plan during public meetings Oct. 23 at 4 and 7 p.m. at Lakota East High School.

One plus for Liberty Township, officials say, was the amount of developable land left open by using the connector-distributor interchange. Liberty's population shot up 147 percent in the 1990s and now stands at about 28,000; there has been little business growth, however, to offset the residential boom.

Landowner Tom McGill said the Hamilton-Mason Road interchange option looks best for all. "I think it was fairly presented," he said. "I don't think there was any landowner that can walk away and say it was unfair."

Rick Bailey, director of the Butler County Transportation Improvement District, said the two public meetings and a two-week waiting period for additional public comment will complete the planning process and allow officials to send the plan to the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration for approval.

"The report will present no surprises to them and we are encouraged by your reaction today that we are on the right track," he said.

No one at the meeting opposed the proposal.

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