City picks design firm

Work expected to get underway in 2019 or 2020

Columbus has hired an engineering firm to design improvements to Westenedge Drive between U.S. 31 to Rocky Ford Road.

The planned improvements are based on feedback residents gave during two neighborhood meetings last spring, said Dave Hayward, executive director of public works/city engineer.

Among the improvements are a side path on the east side of the road, improved lighting, storm drainage work and intersection improvements at the intersections of Westenedge and Locust and Laurel drives that may include a roundabout, Hayward said.

Eighty percent of the estimated $1.5 million improvement project will be paid with federal funding, while the city will pick up the remaining $300,000, Hayward said. The city will pay its portion through its thoroughfare fund, money that is collected through property taxes earmarked for street improvement projects.

Columbus Board of Works members signed a contract with Christopher B. Burke Engineering for $153,000 to work on the project. The engineering firm had created a plan for Westenedge in 2006, but residents were unhappy with it and the project was shelved.

Residents’ suggestions will be a part of the new design, and public meetings will be held to discuss the proposal, Hayward said. The design is expected to be presented sometime in mid- to late April or in early May during an open house.

After the open house, the engineering firm will develop construction documents under the second phase of work that is estimated to cost $133,000, according to the contract. Construction isn’t expected to begin on the project until sometime in 2019 or 2020.

The original design developed by Christopher B. Burke Engineering in 2006 called for two lanes of traffic, bike lanes, curb and gutters, in addition to sidewalks on both sides of the road. However, Hayward said feedback from the open houses last spring revealed that many individuals did not want sidewalks on both sides of the road.

The improvements planned in 2006 generated a neighborhood campaign that was aimed at then-Mayor Fred Armstrong and city engineer Steve Ruble. Ruble had recommended installing 5-foot sidewalks and on-street bike lanes on either side of Westenedge, something residents said would threaten mature trees in the area and increase traffic on the road.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com