Delaware City Manager Tom Homan has said he’ll give his “Moving Delaware Forward” talk to any group that wants to hear it.
On Thursday, he presented the city’s transportation infrastructure plan to the Kiwanis Club of Delaware County.
After a community survey identified that residents were dissatisfied with road conditions and traffic congestion, Homan said City Council met for a whole day about those issues. They proposed an income tax rate increase of 0.15 percent, which would raise the present tax rate from 1.85 percent to 2 percent.
“Nobody likes the increase, but I think it’s fair,” Homan said to the Kiwanis at the Old Bag of Nails restaurant. “This is one of the most consequential issues facing our community.”
The $2.2 million the rate hike would generate annually would be combined with the $1.92 million the city already spends on transportation for a total of $4.12 million per year. The funds would go into one of three buckets, as Homan called it — maintaining existing roads, local road connector projects, and larger projects requiring state and federal assistance.
“One of the strings now when applying for federal funds is local matches,” Homan said.
“When more of our local money is on the table, it’s more attractive to the feds,” said city engineer Jessica Ormeroid.
The city has identified more than 50 priority projects, but talked about three major ones with the Kiwanis — The Point, Merrick Boulevard and Valleyside Drive.
“We need additional lanes for The Point,” Ormeroid said.
“It’s an inefficient intersection,” Homan said of The Point.
Improvements at the conjunction of routes 36/37 include establishing “four-lane capacity below a new railway structure,” the city said in a handout sheet. “This will reduce congestion for both Central Avenue and William Street.”
The $20 million project at The Point would be at least five years out, even if everyone signed off on it. Among the problems is that Homan said a temporary railway bridge would need to be built during the lane expansion, so the railway can be continue operations. He said “they (the railroad) charged us to look at our study.”
Extending Merrick Boulevard will provide a direct connection to Troy Road for west and north side residents, a more direct route to U.S. 23, and reduce congestion on West Central Avenue and Troy.
Extending Valleyside Drive by linking William Street and Central Avenue will reduce congestion on Central and Houk Road, and trim more than one mile of distance to improve emergency service response times.
The two extensions may cost up to $10 million total.
“We still have to maintain what we have,” said public works superintendent Charles Dukes, in regards to crack sealing and other street maintenance. “I have to do the streets with higher traffic counts, and it (the finished areas on a map) look like a checkerboard.”
One of the boards the city displayed showed examples of street grades. Olentangy Avenue had an A; Euclid Avenue was a B; Cheshire Road received a C; Heffner Street a D; and Kurrley Street was an F.
“I’m glad we’re finally going to do something about these projects,” said Kiwanis secretary Jack Hilborn.
Over the last two weeks, there have been four open houses where city staff have discussed the potential projects with the public, as well as separate meetings with groups.
“There’s been a lot of Moving Delaware Forward meetings, and they’ve been going really well, very positive,” Mayor Carolyn Riggle said at the City Council meeting on Monday. “The material we’ve been providing has been accepted.”
Homan said council will begin the reading process next month to put the tax issue on the November ballot.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.