New Update February 7, 2022
OFFICIAL STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO ODOT MISINFORMATION
Recently, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) issued two e-mail statements and posted a statement to its District 6 Facebook page in response to No-Hyw.com’s public statement issued on January 31, 2022. As part of its public statement, No-Hwy.com published the narrative portion of ODOT’s draft November 2021 Preliminary Feasibility Study related to the ongoing Route 23 Connect project. That draft Preliminary Feasibility Study recommends advancing Concept C1, and Concept C1 only, for further study.
Ironically, all three of ODOT’s public responses to No-Hwy.com’s public statement conclude that No-Hwy.com’s public statement is inaccurate. With all due respect to the Ohio Department of Transportation, No-Hwy.com’s public statement of January 31, 2022 is not inaccurate.
First, the draft November 2021 Preliminary Feasibility Study published by No-Hwy.com was obtained from the Ohio Department of Transportation. If ODOT wishes to deny this document is from its office, it should publicly do so. No-Hwy.com did not publish the entire draft document with appendices because it is approximately 320 pages long, and it publicly disclosed that fact in its public statement. If anyone is interested in reviewing the entire draft November 2021 Preliminary Feasibility Study with appendices, it is available from the Ohio Department of Transportation upon request.
Second, No-Hwy.com’s public statement directly quotes the draft November 2021 Preliminary Feasibility Study. The information related to the advancement of Concept C1 can be found on page 16 of that document under the heading titled “Conclusion”. Information related to ODOT’s US 23 Access Management Plan referenced in No-Hwy.com’s public statement may be found on page 4 of the Access Management Plan under the heading titled “II. Purpose and Need”.
Third, No-Hwy.com’s public statement and ODOT’s public responses are remarkably similar. Like ODOT’s two e-mail statements, No-Hwy.com’s public statement stated:
The November 2021 Preliminary Feasibility Study is a draft document;
The November 2021 Preliminary Feasibility Study is not a final document;
ODOT and its consultant, MS Consultants, Inc., are working to finalize the draft Preliminary Feasibility Study;
The recommendation related to Concept C1 is not a final recommendation; and
All other concepts may still be considered
Given that No-Hwy.com’s public statement and ODOT’s two e-mail statements state virtually the same things, it is unclear what ODOT contends is inaccurate in No-Hwy.com’s public statement.
Fourth, the circumstances surrounding the issuance of ODOT’s two e-mail statements are concerning. The first e-mail statement was sent to an undisclosed number of elected/public officials, at a minimum, on Tuesday, February 1, 2022. It does not appear ODOT publicly released this e-mail statement. No-Hwy.com obtained a copy of that statement and published it on February 1, 2022. On February 2, 2022, ODOT issued a second, significantly different, e-mail statement regarding No-Hwy.com’s public statement. It is unclear to whom ODOT sent this second e-mail statement. In its continuing efforts to be fully transparent, No-Hwy.com is officially requesting that ODOT publicly disclose every party to whom it sent the first e-mail statement of February 1, 2022 and every party to whom it sent the second e-mail statement of February 2, 2022. No-Hwy.com also requests that ODOT issue a clarifying e-mail statement to every party it sent e-mail statements to on February 1 and February 2, 2022 and update its Facebook post to correct its misstatement that No-Hwy.com’s public statement is inaccurate.
Fifth, if ODOT is truly interested in remaining transparent as it claims in its e-mail statements with regard to the Route 23 Connect study, No-Hwy.com requests that ODOT publish all draft preliminary feasibility studies and any other documents in its possession as of the date of this public statement related to its ongoing evaluation of various concepts. It is ironic that ODOT claims to be transparent regarding this study but never disclosed or confirmed the existence of the draft November 2021 Preliminary Feasibility Study before it was published by No-Hwy.com on January 31, 2022, just days after ODOT conducted its most recent public meeting regarding this project.
Sixth, it is disheartening and confusing to No-Hwy.com that ODOT felt compelled to issue the two e-mail statements and the Facebook post challenging No-Hwy.com. No-Hwy.com’s public statement of January 31, 2022 (issued during the ongoing public comment session) actually supports the work of the department and its consultants with regard to the Route 23 Connect study. In particular, No-Hwy.com agrees with the department and its consultant, at least on a preliminary basis, that Concept C1 is the best alternative to address the issues related to U.S. 23. Since, as part of this process, ODOT is working to build consensus with its constituents, including No-Hwy.com, with regard to the preferred concept to be chosen, it is ironic that ODOT would publicly challenge a group of grassroots residents and stakeholders that actually agree with it and its consultants.
Regardless, No-Hwy.com stands by its previous statement issued on January 31, 2022 in support of the advancement of Concept C1. Although the draft Preliminary Feasibility Study is not a final decision and all other concepts may still be considered, it is encouraging that ODOT and its consultants (1) recognize the history of this corridor, (2) are acting consistent with its previous plans and studies related to U.S. 23, and (3) are considering the consistent input from local residents and leaders to address and resolve the existing issues with U.S. 23 by actually fixing U.S. 23. No-Hwy.com fully supports Concept C1 and is hopeful that Concept C1 will continue to be fully advanced by ODOT so that the public may learn additional details about what upgrades and modifications would be required to fully implement Concept C1. No-Hwy.com will continue to closely monitor the progression of the Route 23 Connect Study in its efforts to preserve prime farmland and the integrity of our rural communities.