Council approves Phase 1 of State Street project

The Columbus Redevelopment Commission can move forward on the long-awaited State Street revitalization project after receiving permission to spend nearly $2.2 million on the project’s first phase.

Columbus City Council members gave unanimous approval Tuesday night to allow the redevelopment commission to invest in renovations to the Haw Creek Bridge.

Although the State Street revitalization is a project of the city redevelopment office, the council is required to approve all commission expenditures exceeding $500,000. The project will be funded through tax increment financing dollars.

With the council’s approval, United Consulting, the engineering firm hired to design renovations to the State Street corridor, can proceed with its plan to completely redesign the Haw Creek Bridge leading into the intersection of Second, Third and State streets and Central Avenue.

The bridge improvements will focus on increasing pedestrian safety by widening the existing pedestrian zone on the north side of the bridge from 5 feet to 10 feet, and widening the sidewalk on the south side from 4 feet to 6 feet, said Christine Eaton, a representative from Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf, the architectural firm working with United.

The engineering firm’s plan also calls for new barriers and railings to be installed along either side of the bridge to protect pedestrians and cyclists, including a 54-inch cable railing system along the bridge’s border with the water.

The barriers will be standard ones approved by the Indiana Department of Transportation, but with one twist, Eaton said — they will be powder coated red to match the color of the existing Second and Third Street bridges downtown.

Other design elements will be incorporated to capture the spirit of Columbus, Eaton told council members. For example, 10 vertical elements with an industrial-arts-inspired design will be attached to the outer edge of the bridge as a way of paying homage to the city’s industrial history.

Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf also created a gateway design feature that focuses on the intersection of State, Second and Third streets and Central Avenue.

The State Street intersections with Central and Second will be accented with a gear-shaped island — also known as a greenspace — as a way of once again representing the city’s ties to the industrial sector. Sculptures or other artwork will be placed in the center of the islands and will be surrounded by a tree canopy.

Bollards and a retaining wall will line the right corner of the bridge, creating an overlook area for pedestrians.

Finally, new crosswalks that will be installed across Central Avenue will be customized with colors and images to reflect the city’s industrial arts, Eaton said.

Councilman Tim Shuffett praised Eaton and her firm for the gateway design, saying it made the intersections of State, Second, Third and Central a true gateway to the rest of the city. Although that portion of the Phase One design was optional, Shuffett called it a critical element of the revitalization of the entire State Street corridor.

Councilman Frank Miller said he supported the State Street revitalization and was in favor of the initial plans for the Haw Creek Bridge. However, he said in the future he would like the council to work more closely with the redevelopment commission to determine how TIF funds are distributed to city projects.

Several residents from the east side of Columbus who attended Tuesday’s meeting expressed their support and appreciation for the work by United and Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf.

Julie Aton, an east side business owner and member of the State Street Association, said completing initial renovations to the State Street corridor could make the city eligible for additional grants to make further improvements to the area.

After the council’s unanimous vote on funding, the audience broke into a round of applause.

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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.