The City of Delaware is one step closer to kicking off the first phase of The Point Railroad Bridge Replacement Project, which Delaware City Manager Tom Homan called “the single largest transportation project the city has undertaken since the (U.S. Route 23) bypass was built.”
On Monday, City Council unanimously adopted a resolution that allows Homan to enter into a Local Public Agency (LPA) Federal ODOT-Let Project Agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation for The Point project and to execute contracts as required to design, acquire property for, and to construct the project.
Although Homan pointed out the project — which will replace the Norfolk Southern railroad bridge over U.S. Route 36/State Route 37 to allow for the road to be widened to two lanes in each direction — is a long-term one with construction not expected to happen until 2021 or 2022, city officials like Public Works Director/City Engineer Bill Ferrigno are eager to get started.
“This is real exciting because we are right on the cusp of finally really moving forward on The Point,” Ferrigno said. “The LPA agreement is the last necessary step that allows us to get into the contract with our (engineering) consultant Gannett Fleming to actually start the design work. We hope that is going to happen early this December.”
Along with replacing the bridge to improve traffic safety and flow on one of the city’s main routes, the project will also create additional through and turn lanes at the intersection of 36/37 and State Route 521.
“There will be a civic engagement/public participation process involved along the way,” Homan said. “That’s an important part of this.”
Included in the LPA agreement is a breakdown of funding sources for The Point Railroad Bridge Replacement Project, which has an estimated price tag of $25,183,333.
As of Nov. 13, the city has secured nearly $18 million in state and federal funds that includes $3 million in federal safety funds and a $1.5 million grant from the Transportation Review Advisory Council.
The largest funding source is a $13-plus million construction grant from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.
The remaining balance of $7-plus million is currently projected to be funded through $1,195,820 in revenues from the Berkshire Joint Economic Development District Income Tax as well as the Tanger Outlet Center New Community Authority, while the city is left with a local share of $6,208,046.
Ferrigno said it’s the city’s goal to try to cut the $6 million funding gap in half by acquiring additional state or federal dollars to put toward the project.
“The funding is subject to change, and the change should be positive to our side,” he said. “We are going to work very, very hard to try to get our local contribution to go down. The way we are going to be able to do that is to continue to move forward very, very aggressively.”
While the city continues to work to show the state it’s committed to moving the project forward as quickly as possible, the city is hoping the county will step up to lend its financial support.
“We have made a request to Delaware County as well that they consider participating in this type of project because of its regional significance,” Homan said.
Council will hold a public hearing and first reading of an ordinance establishing appropriations for 2018 at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 27 in city council chambers.
The ordinance will undergo a second public hearing and second reading at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 11.
Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle read a proclamation declaring Nov. 25 as Small Business Saturday.
“We really encourage all of our community to go out and support our small businesses,” Riggle said.
Delaware Area Chamber of Commerce President Holly Quaine, who accepted the proclamation along with Main Street Delaware Executive Director Susie Bibler, said, “Small business is the absolute infrastructure of Delaware.”
Council heard the first reading of ordinance in which the Judith D. Hook Revocable Trust is seeking approval of a rezoning amendment for approximately 44.258 acres of land located across from Smith Park on the west side of Troy Road. If approved, the zoning would change from R-4 Medium Density Residential District and R-6 Multi-Family Residential District to R-3 One-Family Residential District.
A public hearing and second reading of the ordinance will be held at 7:20 p.m. on Nov. 27 in city council chambers.
Contact Joshua Keeran at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @KeeranGazette.