Lemon was at a public meeting hosted by the Ohio Department of Transportation to provide input on its plans to add a lane to northbound I-71 and add sound-barrier walls when he found out that the state also plans to close the Ridge Road north exit ramp off I-71 and build a new exit directly to Kennedy Avenue.
Lemon fired off an email to Ohio Department of Transportation officials saying that he told a state transportation official at the meeting that, “I did not see how this project could be considered an economic-development project for Columbia Township when the proposal was eliminating the very exit that led traffic into the heart of the Columbia Township business district and redirected it away from the business district to a traffic light on Kennedy Avenue where any economic-development opportunity is limited.”
“In fact, I expressed concern that it could retard economic development,” Lemon wrote.
“I believe businesses impacted by this change should have been consulted long ago, along with township officials.”
Ohio Department of Transportation officials were not immediately available for comment.
Lemon said state transportation officials say they are changing the exits for safety reasons, have the funding and are moving ahead with the project, although construction is not scheduled to begin until 2018.
But Ohio Department of Transportation officials have agreed to discuss the issue with Columbia Township officials and businesses in the Ridge Road and Highland Avenue area at a meeting Aug. 8.
Lemon intends to lobby the state at the meeting to reopen the link from Duck Creek Road to the north lanes of Ridge Road. It now dead ends.
“If you take the new Kennedy Avenue exit and you want to get back to, say, Burlington Coat Factory, or Jack in the Box or Wendy’s, you have to turn left onto Kennedy, and then left onto Highland and then left onto Ridge,” Lemon said.
“Having driven that many times, I think you know that’s a rather arduous way to get there.
“If they were to reopen Duck Creek, then you could turn right on Kennedy, go down to Duck Creek and turn right to Ridge and then right on up (to the business district),” Lemon said.