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Road improvements begin ahead of Intel's new chip factory in Licking County

Roads are being widened, trees are coming down and not everyone in the area is happy about it.

LICKING COUNTY, Ohio — Intel isn't expected to break ground on its mega semi-conductor plant in western Licking County until sometime this summer with production to begin in 2025.

Credit: New Albany

Meanwhile, road crews on Jug Street not far from the plant's location are busy working to widen the road from two lanes to three.

"I think it's great that they are bringing more jobs to Ohio but at the same time a lot of people are losing their homes," said Robert Dunfee whose parents have lived on Jug Street for more than 30 years.

"I think it's outstanding for the community," said Nick Grosscup who rents a home near an empty cornfield that he says will be the parking lot for Intel employees.

This Jersey Township community is slowly coming to grips with 1,000 acres of farmland that is quickly disappearing to make way for two of Intel's fabrication plans.

"It was peaceful growing up here," says Dunfee who said the constant sound of earthmovers is a sign of the times.

To make way for Intel, and the suppliers that will follow, Jug Street is being transformed.

Hundreds of trees must be removed before the end of March.

New Albany says it had to act quickly before the endangered Indiana bat begins nesting here in the summer.

This is far from the only road project.

Credit: New Albany

There are 10 others road widening projects starting in 2024 that include Jug Street, Green Chapel Road, Mink Street, Harrison Road, Clover Valley Road as well as Beech and Miller Roads.

ODOT will make $112 million worth of improvements to State Route 161 in eastern Franklin County and Western Licking County.

One project will add one lane in each direction of SR 161 from I-270 to just east of US 62.

Another ODOT project will widen the ramp from SR 161 west to I-270 north/west.

ODOT will also improve the Mink Street interchange to connect with the improvements on local roads.

New Albany says the land Intel is purchasing was bought from residents who chose to sell and move. The city says eminent domain was not used to take the land.

Land, that will include no property tax payments for the next 30 years.

Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb said life in Licking County changed the day Intel announced it was coming here.

"There's been a little bit of land rush right now. I would say you have developers from the central Ohio region, the Columbus region even from out of state calling about the price of land and lots over here I compare it to the California gold rush," he said.

He says he's heard concerns from residents about higher home prices and impacts on local school districts. He says while home prices will likely go up at some point, he says schools won't be as impacted initially because much of the workforce will come from a 40-mile radius of Intel site.

"When people live here, they demand more schools more public services so there is a cost to it," he said.

Bubb said he signed an NDA a month before Intel announced in January. He said it was then that he knew the semi-conductor giant was coming to Licking County.

"Intel with its competitors in the chip market didn't want it disclosed so if you wanted to find out about it you must sign an NDA," he said.

Bubb says he expects sales tax revenue to increase for the county especially as construction workers arrive.

"It's a transformational change," he says.

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