TOLEDO, Ohio — Currently, Toledoans trying to get to Columbus have to take I-75 south down to Findlay, merge onto US-23 and then get off the highway and drive through some 38 traffic lights in Delaware County.
Looking to solve this issue, Toledo's city council unanimously voted on a resolution urging Gov. Mike DeWine to create a more direct route to Columbus from Toledo via US-23.
"Having traveled that route, it gets busier and busier, takes longer to get down there, and that's the state capital," said Toledo Councilman George Sarantou, one of the co-writers of the resolution.
Sarantou said the Ohio Department of Transportation has looked into multiple ways to build a bypass for US-23. All options investigated so far, including a $250,000 study from Toledo Metropolitcan Area Council Of Governments, have found such a project to be unfeasible.
Sarantou said the route is unwieldy and unfair, and believes council's vote will convince DeWine to reverse ODOT's decision.
"This is an economic development matter. It's a matter of what's fair, because we have been neglected, and we're asking the governor to do what other governors have done and help us," Sarantou said.
However, DeWine's press secretary, Dan Tierney, said while ODOT has determined that all options so far for creating a US 23 bypass are not feasible, there's nothing for the governor to reverse.
"This is not the end of the process, and Gov. DeWine has directed ODOT to continue to review the matter to address the current problems. As such, there is no decision to "overrule,"' Tierney wrote in an email to WTOL 11.
Sarantou said the US-23 bypass is estimated to cost between $1 billion and $3 billion dollars. Another bypass project completed by ODOT in Portsmouth, Ohio, cost $1 billion as well, which Sarantou argues means that the US-23 project should be feasible. He said it could offer significant value for both cities, the long term.
"I would say [it would create] far more economic development, far more jobs. People working, in various industries that would be affected by that. I mean, look at all the trucks on the highway, that's only gonna get more-so," Sarantou said.
The resolution not only has the blessing of city council, but it also has the support of the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz.