State Street project takes a detour

Columbus is modifying its State Street project to link an urban trail from Mill Race Park along Fifth Street all the way to the city’s east side.

The new path for the project will direct walkers and bicyclists from the park along an urban trail on Fifth Street past some of the city’s most well-known architectural landmarks, including First Christian Church and the Bartholomew County Public Library.

The trail will then head south along California Street to Third Street, where it intersects with State Street.

From there, the redevelopment corridor continues east along State Street to near Mapleton Street on the east side.

The Columbus Redevelopment Commission approved the changes, along with modifying United Engineer’s contract for the State Street project to accommodate the route and project changes.

The changes will bring the total cost of the project from the original $717,000 contract with United to about $1.61 million when the Fifth Street portion is added.

The commission also approved a resolution to hire Rundell Ernstberger Associates, Indianapolis, to be the lead design firm for the Fifth Street portion of the project, agreeing to pay $49,900 for the preliminary and final concept designs.

The company designed the Indianapolis Cultural Trail and the Monon Rail-Trail in Carmel and Westfield and has worked with United on projects before, city officials said.

Dave Hayward, executive director of public works and city engineer, said the new administration began evaluating the State Street project in January and started questioning the original Third Street portion of the State Street project through the downtown area.

After determining that the count of 20,000 vehicles per day along Third Street made it a little intimidating to pedestrians and bicyclists, and consulting the city’s pedestrian and cycling path studies, city officials settled on moving the trail to Fifth Street for the corridor leading into the State Street project, he said.

Hayward described the route change as creating the first urban trail for the city of Columbus.

City officials were initially concerned about finding the right designer, he said.

“But then we learned we had one of the best urban trail design companies in Indianapolis,” Hayward told the commission.

The city doesn’t have a preconceived notion of how the urban trail will look, Hayward said, and will depend on Rundell Ernstberger to provide options and possibilities. Estimated completion time for the design work is four to five months.

The next step for the State Street project is beginning work on the Haw Creek bridge late this year or in early 2017, said Heather Pope, city redevelopment director. The bridge is being widened to add pedestrian paths and the Indiana Department of Transportation has plans to do a deck overlay on the bridge next year, she said.

Russell Poling Sr., former redevelopment commission member, told commission members before their vote that he thought the proposal looked good and the Fifth Street corridor would be less hazardous to pedestrians and cyclists than original plans to feed into Third Street.

What's next

With the Columbus Redevelopment Commission’s approval on Monday, the United Engineering contract amendment for the State Street project now goes to the Columbus City Council for consideration at its Aug. 2 meeting, redevelopment director Heather Pope said.

The contract with Rundell Ernstberger Associates for design of the Fifth Street portion of the project will be considered by the Columbus Board of Works on July 26, Pope said.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.