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State Street’s estimate comes in

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The first phase of a project to revitalize Columbus’ State Street corridor may cost up to $6.9 million.

Indianapolis-based engineering firm United Consulting provided the figure this week as one of two cost options to Columbus Redevelopment Commission members. It’s the first time costs have been linked to a portion of the State Street project, which involves updating streets, sidewalks and infrastructure.

United Consulting estimates that construction could cost the city anywhere from $1.78 million to $6.9 million, not including preliminary engineering costs, which commission attorney Stan Gamso said could be paid for out of tax-increment financing, or TIF, dollars.

The entire first phase of the project is eligible for TIF monies, Gamso said, because the area being redeveloped is adjacent to the TIF and would benefit the district and the community as a whole.

Should the city approve TIF funding and a contract with United, construction for the more extensive option could begin as early as 2017.

Jeromy Richardson, a project team leader with United, said the two cost options represent opposite ends of the spectrum.

The $1.78 million cost is based on a minimum design, in which United would redo the sidewalk on the south side of State Street from Central Avenue to North Mapleton Street, a stretch a little longer than a half-mile, he said.

In comparison, he said, the $6.9 million is based on an ideal design.

That design would call for sidewalk rehabilitation on the south side of State Street and the installation of an urban trail, to be modeled after the Cultural Trail in Indianapolis, on the north side of the corridor stretching one mile from Lafayette Avenue to North

Mapleton Street. It also would include building a bridge to connect the People Trails across Haw Creek.

Both plans call for the improvements to the intersection of Central Avenue and Second, Third and State streets and the construction of green space where State Street intersects with Stadler Drive and Indiana Avenue.

The city ultimately could decide on a design that falls somewhere between the two cost figures, Richardson said.

But implementing the ideal design would require approval from the Indiana Department of Transportation, Mayor Kristen Brown said. That’s because that scenario would involve the city taking over INDOT’s upcoming project along State Street to redo curb ramps and traffic signals, she said.

Regardless of what option the city chooses, those who live, work and play in and around the area would like to remain involved with the project, said Julie Bilz, president of the State Street Area Association.

Bilz said the group could serve as an advisory committee of sorts for United.

“We have a vested interest in the plan,” she said.

Richardson said United would hold public information meetings and that the company utilized arts groups in Indianapolis when developing the cultural trail.

Dascal Bunch, who represents East Columbus on the city council, recommended that United take that same approach in designing and making improvements to State Street.

He told consultants that he would like to see them pull in the Columbus Parks Foundation, which has been instrumental in the construction of the city’s People Trails, and recommended that the group utilize a committee to help them keep a clear perspective on what residents want to see done to the corridor.

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