An updated Transportation Improvement Program for Columbus will be showcased at an open house at Columbus City Hall, detailing major road improvement projects planned for the next five years.
The projects in the plan include road improvements, bridge replacements, improvements to the People Trail and other transportation projects throughout Bartholomew County.
The Columbus Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) is hosting the event from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday in Conference Room 3 at city hall, with public comment continuing until March 29.
“It’s always good to have the opportunity for the public to comment,” said Laura Thayer, transportation planner for CAMPO. “They may think of something we haven’t.”
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Thayer said the public’s comments will be sent to the CAMPO Policy Board, which governs transportation planning for the area in CAMPO’s jurisdiction.
The board has seven voting members, including Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop, city and county officials and one representative from the Indiana Department of Transportation. The board has two non-voting members, Joyce Newland of the Federal Highway Administration and Alexandria Burns of the Federal Transit Administration.
Each year, CAMPO receives federal money for road construction projects with federal dollars typically covering 80 percent of the projects’ cost and the city and county paying the remaining 20 percent.
In fiscal year 2020, CAMPO will receive an estimated $1.85 million, according to city figures. In 2019, CAMPO received $1.81 million.
The federal money is coming from the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2015.
In order to receive federal funding through the act, CAMPO must update and re-approve its Transportation Improvement Program plan every two years. The plan was previously updated in 2017. The updated plan must be finalized by the May 22 deadline set by the Indiana Department of Transportation, city officials said.
“We’re trying to use federal money to save some local money,” said Danny Hollander, Bartholomew County engineer. “It’ll go to someone else if we don’t use it.”
One proposed project would widen Lowell Road to two lanes in each direction from County Road 325W., just west of the bridge over the Driftwood River, to Indianapolis Road. Local officials hope to acquire the right of way by fiscal year 2020 and begin construction on the first phase of the project in 2022. Phase 2 is scheduled to start in fiscal year 2023.
In addition to adding lanes, the bridge over the Driftwood River on Lowell Road would be replaced, according to the plan.
County officials are exploring options that would allow motorists to continue using the old bridge while the new one is being built, according to Hollander. The bridge has an estimated total price tag of $2.87 million, but Bartholomew County would only have to fund $575,000 of the total amount, according to CAMPO’s draft transportation improvement plan.
“If we don’t do the bridge along with the road, it’s going to be very narrow,” Hollander said. “The road is going to be widened, and it’s all going to funnel down into a narrow bridge.”
Another project would add curbs, gutters and bicycle and pedestrian facilities along County Road 350W from Goeller Road to State Road 46, said Dave Hayward, Columbus executive director of public works and city engineer.
“It’s really a prime cut-through from Tipton Lakes to West Hill Shopping Center,” he said. “It just continues to increase in traffic and becomes more and more urban all the time. It’s just reached the time where we want to make that more of an urban street rather than an old county road.”
Additionally, Goeller Road from Tipton Lakes Boulevard to Oakbrook Drive would be improved, potentially with curbs, gutters and sidewalks. However, Hayward said it’s too early to tell what specifically would be done to the road. Construction wouldn’t begin on County Road 325W or Goeller Road until fiscal year 2024, according to CAMPO’s plan.
In central Columbus, a proposed project would make improvements to the People Trail from Noblitt Park to Lincoln Park along 19th Street and 17th Street.
“Right now that route is part of the People Trail,” Thayer said. “It is identified as a bike trail on the street and has a sidewalk. But we’ve heard for a long time from people that this is a not a good connection and that it needs to be safer.”
There has been some uncertainty surrounding the project’s funding, CAMPO officials said
They are seeking money from the Highway Safety Improvement Program, a federal program that funds transportation projects designed to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries. One of the benefits of the program is that the city would only have to contribute 10 percent of the project’s cost instead of the 20 percent that is normally required, Hayward said.
However, local officials have struggled to meet the program’s requirements.
“You’ve got to show that you’ve got some accidents that you think you can eliminate by implementing a project,” Hayward said. “On 19th Street, we just don’t have any accident history to speak of. We’re having trouble getting the justification through the state, so we may have to redefine that project to find something that will work. We’re still in the process of doing that right now.”
Though many of the projects are in advanced stages and have already received approval from the CAMPO Policy Board in previous years, Thayer said board members are still receptive to suggestions and often incorporate the public’s comments into similar projects in the future.
“In the past, the public wanted more pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and now that’s almost always considered (by the CAMPO Policy Board),” she said.
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Open house” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
What: Columbus Area Metropolitan Planning Organization open house
When: 4 to 6 p.m. Monday
Where: Conference Room 3, Columbus City Hall, 123 Washington St.
How much: Free and open to the public
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If you are unable to attend the Columbus Area Metropolitan Planning Organization open house and wish to submit a comment, contact Laura Thayer, transportation planner. The public comment period ends on March 29.
Email: [email protected]
Mail: Laura Thayer, Columbus City Hall, 123 Washington Street, Columbus IN 47201
[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”About CAMPO” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
CAMPO, the acronym for the Columbus Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, is the metropolitan planning organization for the Columbus area. Metropolitan Planning Organizations receive federal transportation planning and construction funds and are in charge of transportation planning in their designated planning areas. CAMPO’s planning area covers all of Bartholomew County. In Indiana, federal transportation funds are dispersed through the Indiana Department of Transportation, MPOs and local governments.
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Lowell Road bridge
The bridge over the Driftwood River on Lowell Road would be replaced to go along with a widened Lowell Road. Construction is slated to begin in FY 2022.
- Federal contribution: $2.3 million
- Local contribution: $575,000
The improvements to Lowell Road would include widening the road to two lanes in each direction between CR 325 W., just west of the Driftwood River, until Indianapolis Road, east of U.S. 31.
Phase 1 of the project would be managed by Bartholomew County and would run from CR 325 W. until the city limits on CR 200 W. The county portion of the road would be widened enough to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians.
The second phase, which is scheduled to start construction in FY 2023, would pick up where phase 1 left off and continue along Lowell Road until Indianapolis Road. The city portion of the street would have sidewalks and gutters.
- Federal contribution (phase 1): $1.7 million
- Local contribution (phase 1): $427,872
- Federal contribution (phase 2): $2.5 million
- Local contribution (phase 2): $646,165
County Road 350W (Goeller Road to State Road 46)
Curbs, gutters and bicycle and pedestrian facilities will be added along CR 350 W. from Goeller Road to State Road 46.
Additionally, Goeller Road from Tipton Lakes Boulevard until Oakbrook Drive would be improved, potentially with curbs, gutters and sidewalks. However, local officials said it’s too early to tell what specifically would be done to the road.
Construction wouldn’t begin on CR 325 W. or Goeller Road until FY 2024, according to CAMPO’s draft transportation improvement plan.
- Federal contribution: $3.3 million
- Local contribution: $825,470
A proposed project would make improvements to the People Trail from Noblitt Park to Lincoln Park along 19th Street and 17th Street to improve safety for bicycles and pedestrians.
Phase 1 would run from Noblitt Park to Donner Park on 17th Street. Phase 2 would go from Lincoln Park to Donner Park along 19th Street. Construction on Phase 1 is scheduled to start in FY 2020. Phase 2 construction would start in fiscal year 2021.
- Federal contribution (Phase 1): $202,500
- Local contribution (Phase 1): $22,500
- Federal contribution (Phase 2): $202,500
- Local contribution (Phase 2): $22,500