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Woodside roads up for major improvements

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The city wants to reconstruct several Woodside Industrial Park streets as part of a multimillion-dollar road improvement project this summer.

About three miles of streets in the industrial park near Walesboro might be replaced because the road surface is crumbling under heavy semitrailer truck traffic, Mayor Kristen Brown said.

The Columbus Redevelopment Commission has approved preliminary engineering work in preparation for the city to spend $2.5 million to resurface International Drive and several other streets in the industrial park.

Because the project cost is more than $500,000, however, the road work also must be approved by the Columbus City Council.

The project will be funded through the city’s tax-increment financing district fund, which had about $5.9 million at the end of 2013, Brown said.

International Drive and several surrounding streets won’t survive another year without the road work, the mayor said, particularly after such an extreme winter.

City Engineer Beth Fizel said there are several reasons the industrial park roads are crumbling.

She told Redevelopment Commission members last week that there is no drainage system under the roads, causing water to infiltrate the road surface and wear away surface edges.

When industrial park streets were constructed in the late 1970s and mid-1980s, they were not built to withstand the large number of semis that now use them to reach companies including NTN Driveshaft, Sunright America and the Phoenix Group, the mayor said. Fizel estimated as many as 100 semis travel over International Drive each day.

Sunright America sent a petition to the city last year asking to have the streets evaluated, mainly questioning how narrow the streets are, according to Kenta Takagi, the company’s sales director.

The company has been on International Drive in the industrial park since 2008 and has seen more truck traffic on the streets, a lot of it headed to Sunright, Takagi said. About 30 semis are in and out of the facility daily, and the company has 210 employees who drive in and out on three shifts each day.

Sunright America also wants a traffic light at South International Drive and State Road 58, where traffic backs up daily at shift change, Takagi said.

The company completed an expansion in February, adding another entrance, which has helped, Takagi said. But the winter was a challenging commute for workers and semi drivers because of the narrow, winding streets and snow at the roadside, he said.

Jim Riggs, president of NTN Driveshaft, described the roads as “very poor and deteriorating rapidly.”

“There’s not a great deal of space for trucks to pass each other on the streets,” Riggs said.

NTN has about 90 trucks per day traveling in and out of its facility, and 1,750 employees use the industrial park roads in three shifts.

If the roads aren’t fixed soon, “it’s only going to get worse,” Riggs said. “We would be a huge supporter of the city making these improvements.”

NTN also petitioned the city about improving the narrow roads and sought the traffic light at South International Drive.

Sims and Brown said they have been advocating for that traffic signal with the state Department of Transportation for some time but have not had success convincing the state to install it.

The streets in the industrial park are 24 feet wide. Randy Sims, senior engineering technician for the city, said, “It’s not going to be wider.”

The city plans to meet with industrial park businesses to ask that the semis not “stage” on the side of the roads when waiting in the industrial park because they believe the semis’ weight is crumbling the pavement, Sims said.

To save money, Fizel said, the project will be bid out, asking the road contractor to use a process that recycles the asphalt on the road and reuses it for the new surface. Called full-depth reclamation, the process allows the contractor to grind up the existing pavement and reuse it in the base for the new asphalt. A new road surface is then placed over the base, she said.

Using this process cuts project cost by a third, Fizel said. It’s also faster and will cause less disruption for the businesses at Woodside, she said.

An outside engineering firm — at a cost of about $25,000 — will be sought to design the drainage system for the new pavement. The city wants drainage running along the sides of the new pavement to keep water out of the road surface, Fizel said.

With city council approval, the project could be advertised with a bid opening set for May, Fizel said. The bid advertisement could require completion this summer if city officials include that in the specifications.

The city won’t pursue adding sidewalks to the project now because of cost, Brown said. The road work will be done in a way that if the city wishes to add curbs and sidewalks later, it can be done without damaging the surface being repaired this summer, Fizel said.

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