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Engineer contract on agenda

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City officials will consider plans this week to begin improvements along the State Street Corridor.

The Columbus Redevelopment Commission on Monday will consider a $488,500 contract to hire United Consulting for engineering and design services for the first phase of the project to revitalize State Street, also known as State Road 46.

United is an Indianapolis-based engineering firm that has been working with the city to bring the plan for the corridor to life.

Then on Tuesday night, the Columbus City Council will hear an update on the project’s first phase and discuss the contract.

That update comes two weeks after engineers with the Indianapolis firm told council members that they would need to get moving immediately in order to meet a November deadline to implement plans and coordinate with the Indiana Department of Transportation.

INDOT plans to resurface State Road 46 from North Mapleton Street to the East Fork White River next year.

United presented two different options to the redevelopment commission and the city council in July and earlier this month.

The firm’s preliminary estimates included one option with a 10-foot trail that now has been downsized to an eight-foot trail, as presented in the original plan.

Now, engineers with United Consulting will present two slightly revised options to the commission on Monday and to the council on Tuesday.

Mayor Kristen Brown, who is also president of the redevelopment commission, said the new options have roughly the same scope, though the cost estimates have changed.

The previous options would have cost the city an estimated $1.8 million or $6.9 million.

United provided new design and construction cost estimates to the city Friday, which are $1.9 million or $2.8 million, depending on what city officials choose.

The $1.9 million option calls for safety improvements where State Street intersects with Central Avenue and splits into Second and Third streets.

It also calls for an eight-foot People Trail made of decorative asphalt pavers along the north side of State Street from Central Avenue to Indiana Avenue.

A new sidewalk would be installed along the south side of the street from Central Avenue to North Mapleton Street and along the north side from Indiana Avenue to North Mapleton.

The cost would decrease to $1.3 million if the city chooses to use concrete instead of asphalt pavers.

Brown said she is advocating that the city approve the $2.8 million option, which takes the improvements in the less expensive option and adds a People Trail stretching from Central Avenue west to Lafayette Avenue along the north side of Third Street.

If the city elects to have that trail constructed with concrete, the cost would decrease to $1.8 million.

The pocket parks at Stadler Drive and Indiana Avenue have been pulled out of the first phase of implementation, for now, Brown said.

The pocket parks had be to removed because there are so many “moving parts” involved in their design and funding, the mayor said.

The pocket parks will be revisited later but it isn’t crucial that the pocket parks be done in conjunction with INDOT’s resurfacing project, she said.

Brown said what is crucial is that the city bring United Consulting on board so the engineering firm can get to work and implement designs so the city can coordinate with INDOT.

That’s why she’s recommending that the commission authorize the firm to start on topographical surveys from North Mapleton Street to Lafayette Avenue, at a cost of $70,200, and approve the remaining $378,300 subject to the approval of the city council. City council members will then discuss the contract Tuesday and could vote on it Sept. 2.

Jeff Bergman, the city planning director, added that the city “needs to get an engineer on board to deal with the physical realities” of implementing the State Street Corridor plan.

And he said that INDOT vetted the plans for the eight-foot trail and didn’t object to the concept as presented in the plan developed by city planners, those who live and work along the State Street corridor and The Lakota Group, a Chicago-based design and planning group.

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