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A $7 million Indiana Avenue improvement project slated to begin next year will be the first large city street project in the eastern Columbus neighborhood in about four decades, city officials said.

Some residents say the attention has been a long time coming, but they are glad to see the city working in an area they believe has been neglected.

The project, almost a mile long, will rebuild the street, add curbs, gutters, sidewalks and bike lanes and improve 14 intersections, including the connection with State Street, according to the city engineer’s office.

The project will be 80 percent funded by federal money, with the city share being 20 percent of the remaining $5.9 million estimated cost, said Steve Rucker the assistant city engineer. The city already has spent $1.1 million for right-of-way and engineering costs, of which the federal government has reimbursed the city $229,760 for preliminary engineering work, Rucker said.

The street, connecting Marr Road just north of Columbus East High School to State Street, has about

2,400 vehicles traveling on it every day, and traffic is expected to increase to 5,200 vehicles daily by 2030, Rucker said.

Diana Wright has rented her home at Indiana Avenue and Mapleton Street for more than 25 years. Although she stands to lose a good chunk of her side yard to the project, she said it will be worth it to get the children out of the middle of the street.

Her adult daughter, Jennifer Galloway, said students coming home from East High School walk down the middle of the street. Galloway grew up in the house, went to East High School and used to love the eastern Columbus neighborhood. But she said that side of the city has been badly neglected over the years. Most eastern Columbus streets are bereft of improvements such as sidewalks, and the area has continued to see businesses disappear, she said.

“There used to be everything over here,” Galloway said. “I loved being on this side of town. But since it has deteriorated so much, I don’t come to this side of town but to see my mother.”

Kathy Warner, chairwoman of the East Columbus United Methodist Church trustees, said that, although the church will lose 10 to 12 parking spaces on Indiana Avenue, members welcome the project.

“If they do all the things they are talking about, I think it is just going to be a dramatic change,” Warner said. “I am very excited about it.”

Although she doesn’t live in eastern Columbus, Warner said the neighborhood changes she has seen in her 32 years at the church have been largely negative.

“When I started going over there, most of the homes there were private owners,” Warner said. “Now I don’t see that so much. I see a lot of rental property. They are letting the properties really deteriorate.”

She said she worries that it is hard to gain new members to the church because of the neighborhood conditions. But the Indiana Avenue project and the continuing study of State Street have given her reason for hope.

“It is a wonderful church; it is a very missionary-minded church,” Warner said. “We would love to have new people come, but I am just worried that the surroundings are discouraging people.”

Mayor Kristen Brown said the project has been in the city’s plans since 2006. Next year’s budget includes the city’s share of the funding for the project, expected to be about $1.4 million.

“There is a conscious effort to make major investments in east Columbus, and this is a very good one,” Brown said of a commitment that began with the previous city administration of Fred Armstrong and continues with the current one. “From what I have heard so far from the residents, they are really welcoming it.”

Brown said the city has had to choose where to spend its dollars and has recently concentrated on areas that are growing quickly in western Columbus. The city finished a major project on County Road 200S this year and is working on improvements to Carr Hill Road. She said those streets were small country roads that cannot handle the amount of traffic they are getting.

“We have got projected traffic growth on Indiana Avenue but not to that extent,” she said.

Brown said the city also has made major investments to downtown Columbus, but she sees that as a benefit to everyone in the city.

She said the eastern Columbus project dwarfs other recent city projects.

Last year’s work on Fourth Street was a $1.7 million project, with the city’s share costing $553,793. Although work on County Road 200S was a

$2.4 million project, the city share was $610,000, she said.

Rucker said the last major city road project in eastern Columbus was to improve 10th Street in the mid-1970s. A major State Street renovation was completed in 2009, but that was a state project, he said.

Rucker said the city hopes to have bids go out for the project next summer and have the work finished by the end of next year.

Timeline

l January 2006

Selection of project and designer.

  • l September 2006

 Design contract signed.

  • l November 2008

Public hearing.

  • l October 2009

 Right-of-way acquisition began.

  • l July 2012

Right-of-way acquisition finished.

  • l July 2014

Projected bid opening.

  • l September 2014

Projected start of construction.

  • l December 2014

Projected completion of project.

Source: City of Columbus

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