Local officials and developers are beginning to recognize the potential of one of Erie County's top underdeveloped areas -- the interchange at Ohio 4 and the Ohio Turnpike.
U.S. 250 has served as the main thoroughfare to Cedar Point traffic for years and as a result has become the commercial center for the entire county. However, local drivers and tourists in the know have been increasingly using the Ohio 4 exit from the turnpike to avoid the traffic congestion often found on U.S. 250.
Unfortunately, the rural two-lane highway offers little but scenic views of farmland when traveling north into the heart of Sandusky. Developers are ready to tap the potential commerce of the highway, but a major roadblock to commercial development exists in the lack of a sewer line.
County commissioners have secured millions of dollars in grant money to extend a sewer line south along U.S. 250 between the Kalahari Waterpark Resort and the Ohio Turnpike in hopes of attracting development. Yet, when it comes to Ohio 4, there is no such build-it-and-they-will-come approach.
Erie County's sanitary engineer, Jack Meyers, said it would cost $5 million to $7 million to build the sewer line needed to spur growth in the area. In these tough economic times, the last thing we need is to build a sewer to nowhere with no comprehensive plan in place.
There's been plenty of talk, but when will the talk result in a master plan? Preferably, the plan would take into account the interchange's ripeness for industrial and medical-service uses, which would be a nice complement to the retail and tourist strip that has grown along U.S. 250.
We don't envision Ohio 4 competing with U.S. 250 for indoor waterparks, fast-food restaurants and tourist traps anytime soon, it would be good to put a plan in place to give tourists and residents travel options while encouraging growth on Ohio 4 in a responsible manner.