A $25 million project to relieve the traffic bottleneck near the intersection of U.S. Route 36/State Route 37 on the east side of Delaware is officially underway.
City Council on Monday approved an ordinance appropriating nearly $1 million for preliminary engineering services for The Point Railroad Bridge Replacement Project. Included in the ordinance is language establishing a new capital improvement fund — Point Project Capital Fund — to track revenues and expenditures related to the multi-year project that’s expected to take until 2024 to complete.
Public Works Director/City Engineer Bill Ferrigno said the initial $984,898 in consulting design work — 90 percent of which is being funded through a federal safety grant — is part one of a two-part engineering agreement between the city and Gannett Fleming, a Columbus-based engineering firm.
According to city documents, part one includes roughly 50 tasks associated with the engineering phase of the project.
“This is the first part of what would be a total estimated $3.3 million (city responsible for 10 percent) or so in design costs,” Ferrigno said. “This contract will include identifying what the project and bridge location should look like, what the costs should look like, and involve an extensive public (feedback) process sometime in the fall.”
Project manager speaks out
On Monday, City Council was introduced to Gannett Fleming’s Highway Department Manager Shane Campbell, who will be spearheading the project that will replace the Norfolk Southern railroad bridge over U.S. 36/SR 37 to allow for the road to be widened to two lanes in each direction.
Having managed similar railroad-related projects throughout the state, Campbell assured council The Point project is right in his “sweet spot.”
“We are honored that you selected us,” he said. “We are ready to get started.”
With some city taxpayers questioning why their tax dollars are being used to replace a railroad bridge not owned by the city, City Manager R. Thomas Homan asked Campbell to explain why the replacement is the city’s responsibility and not Norfolk Southern’s.
“It’s a question that’s been asked by many municipalities across the state,” Campbell said. “The unfortunate part is (Norfolk Southern) holds all the cards. They will replace that bridge if and when they ever decide to replace that bridge. Unfortunately, it does look like it’s deteriorating, but in their ‘standards,’ it’s acceptable.
“(The city) is at a point now where your zipper merge really is doing as much as it can do,” he added. “You are at the point where you need to widen it. The only way you can widen it is to replace that bridge.”
Campbell said as unfortunate as it might be, the financial impact on the city could be much worse.
“The fortunate part is Bill (Ferrigno) and his team, and the City of Delaware, has done a great job in procuring a lot of funds,” he added.
While the project has an estimated price tag of just over $25 million, the city’s share currently stands slightly above $6 million.
Ferrigno has gone on the record stating the city is working to try to secure additional funding to cut its share in half by the time the project is completed.
Contact Joshua Keeran at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @KeeranGazette.