An estimated 70 people were on hand for an informational meeting about the East William Street (U.S. 36) improvement project at Conger Elementary School’s gym on Monday.
Officials from the Ohio Department of Transportation, contractor DLZ and the city of Delaware showed maps and drawings of the project and fielded questions and comments from the public.
“Residents offered some very good comments on a broad range of topics, including street trees, traffic signals, street lighting, school traffic and more,” said Lee Yoakum, the city’s community affairs coordinator.
The project description given to attendees said the improvements will “upgrade East William Street to address safety concerns by providing a two-way left turn lane from Potter Street to the Point and replace the bikeway bridge to provide a longer span and improve the intersection radius at Lake Street.”
In addition, there will be upgrades to “existing traffic signals at the intersection of William with Lake and with Channing Street.” The improvements would extend along William from Lake (U.S. 42) to the Point (the intersection with State Route 37, also known as Central Avenue).
Improving William Street arose from the ashes of the Veterans Parkway, a proposed 3.9-mile bypass around the southeastern portion of the city which would exit off U.S. 23, cross the Olentangy River, and connect to Glenn Road.
The parkway was part of a City/County 2001 Thoroughfare Plan, according to background provided to The Gazette from the city. Congressman Pat Tiberi was able to obtain $4 million in federal funds for the project. Due to the magnitude of the project, in 2011-2012, the state’s Transportation Review Advisory Council downgraded the priority of the project, and the city suspended its studies.
Despite the setback, the city has since met with ODOT and was able to shift the $3.5 million balance of federal funding to the East William Street project, which is also the estimated construction cost.
“It still met the goal, which was to alleviate the problem we have now, but without having to wait dozens of years for tens of millions dollars that would probably never materialize,” Yoakum said. “We’re able to effect change more quickly and for a lot less money.”
Design on the project will be completed in 2016, the right of way will be certified in 2017, and construction will occur in 2018.
Other related east-west commuting improvements, such as the Point and Central Avenue resurfacing, have to be considered as separate projects for funding purposes.
“All three are different projects,” Yoakum said. “They all are linked, though, because they affect the east side of Delaware.”
Another link is that all three projects include Norfolk & Southern railroad bridges.
“The railroad is concerned with what goes along the track,” Yoakum said. “What goes underneath it, they really don’t care about. That’s been communicated to us, and it still hasn’t stopped us from reaching out to them and trying to get some assistance.”
Comments on the East William Street project will be accepted until March 31, and can be sent to city deputy engineer Matt Weber at email@example.com or by calling 740-203-1721.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.