The Point creates funding issues

By Brandon Klein - [email protected]

The city of Delaware will have to find new sources of funding to meet its local match of about $6.1 million to widen and replace the railroad bridge at The Point.

Otherwise, it will have to use dollars normally used to resurface roads to address the bottleneck intersection of State Route 37 and U.S. 36.

The city can only commit about $2 million each year to its entire transportation program, spokesman Lee Yoakum said in late June. Delaware voters rejected one possible source of funding more than eight months ago as more than two-thirds voted against a road income tax levy Delaware City Council placed on the ballot last year.

“That was a discussion we had with the community; we still need to have it with the community,” City Manager R. Thomas Homan said at a council meeting on Monday.

At the same meeting, Councilman George Hellinger requested two resolutions be removed from the consent agenda for further discussion. Council later approved the agenda items for Homan to apply for grant funding from the Ohio Works Public Commission to resurface roads.

Council has tried to explain the current conditions of the city’s roads and why its resources are limited, Hellinger said. But based on conversations he’s had with residents, it’s not enough.

“We just need to do some more education to get more information out with regards to where these different third parties are coming from,” he said. “And what, how much monies the city themselves have invested in some of these programs and why then we just can’t go out and resurface all the” roads this year.

Under the grant applications, the city would use the funds to resurface North Union and Winter streets; repair the Winter Street bridge over the Olentangy River; and refurbish the signalized intersections at North Union Street and Central Avenue and Winter and Sandusky streets. If successful, Homan would sign an agreement with OPWC in July 2018.

“We do this annually and … this is one of the local road improvement programs that we depend on for our resurfacing needs,” he said.

The project would cost about $920,322 with the city’s contribution estimated at $470,322. From OPWC, the city requested $450,000 directly and up to $50,000 indirectly through Delaware County.

City Engineer and Public Works Director Bill Ferrigno said the OPWC program has been a mainstay of the city’s paving efforts for at least 15 years. The dollars are used to resurface arterial and collector roads.

These larger roads are designed to deliver traffic from residential properties to highways. They therefore get high priority because these roads carry the most traffic and deteriorate quicker. The grants have helped the city’s arterial and collector roads decline at a slower rate, Ferrigno said.

But the estimated $1-million program needs about a half-million dollars more to properly maintain the large roads each year, he said. And that does not include neighborhood roads.

“Unfortunately the levy, on the first try, didn’t pass and the issue is just as important today as it was a year ago,” Ferrigno said.

During the same meeting, City Council approved two partnering agreements with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission to receive $13,279,467 for The Point project and $2.5 million for citywide signal improvements.

With the MORPC funding, the city has secured 76 percent for the more than $25 million project. The city received more than $4.5 million from the Ohio Department of Transportation and $1,195,820 in shared income tax revenue with Berkshire Township from the Joint Economic Development District at the Tanger Outlets Columbus mall.

Delaware plans to formally request additional funds from Delaware County.

But funding The Point project over the next six years could prevent resurfacing projects such as the ones for Winter and North Union streets, according to a city-prepared fact sheet.

Homan said council will talk about those challenges as part of its capital improvement plan discussions.

By Brandon Klein

[email protected]

Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.

Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.