Delaware City Council met Monday for a special work session that included, among other agenda items, a presentation on the city’s thoroughfare plan and associated roadway projects that are being planned for the city.
Matt Weber, the city’s manager of capital and land development engineering, and Land Development Lead Engineer Carrie Fortman led the presentation to council, which focused on four specific roadway projects coming soon to the city.
Weber and Fortman began the presentation by first highlighting both the general need for a thoroughfare plan and the importance of remaining dedicated to following it.
The thoroughfare plan is defined as a planning document for safe and efficient travel across the city, which also displays the connectivity of the roadway network. Weber said the ongoing plan balances trips throughout the city across the network with route options, provides relief to arterial roads that are over capacity, reduces congestion and exhaust emissions while increasing safety, and reduces emergency response times.
Weber acknowledged that a common perception of the thoroughfare plan is that it favors developers and ultimately brings about more growth in the community. However, he said that, in reality, growth is going to happen regardless in a community as attractive as Delaware.
“Another way to say it is some people feel that it’s just a resource for us but a tool for developers to get things done, but it’s actually the opposite,” Weber told council. “It’s a resource for developers to do their homework, and it’s a tool for us to make sure things get done properly.”
Weber added that without a thoroughfare plan in place, or without a city’s obligation to require developers to contribute to thoroughfares, communities end up with a “hodgepodge” of unfinished road networks, something he said can be found in cities around central Ohio that have not stayed committed to thoroughfare plans through the years.
Fortman pointed out that one telling example of the benefit of continuing to adhere to a thoroughfare plan can be found in the development of Houk Road, which is seen on the thoroughfare plan dating back to 1964. Weber said remaining committed to the plan also allows the public to have accessible and reliable information about future plans throughout the city.
The four projects highlighted in the discussion included the extensions of Cheshire Road, Sawmill Parkway, Merrick Boulevard and Glenn Parkway. The extension of Cheshire Road to U.S. Route 23 is being led by Delaware County and is currently under design. Weber said the conceptual estimate to complete the project is less than $5 million, adding that the project also includes improvements to U.S. Route 23 such as the creation of a new intersection at Cheshire Road.
Extending Sawmill Parkway has been a recent topic of conversation among council members. Council is currently considering two resolutions relating to the development of Sawmill Pointe Business Park, which would include connecting Sawmill Parkway to Section Line Road and constructing a roundabout at the intersection.
In total, the project would include the design, engineering, and installation of approximately 4,150 feet of Sawmill Parkway along with the expected roundabout intersection.
Like the Sawmill Parkway extension, the Merrick Boulevard extension from Cambridge Road to Troy Road, and the Merrick Parkway extension from Troy Road, over the railroad tracks, to U.S. Route 23 have received plenty of attention over the past year due to its inclusion in the Addison Farms proposal in northwest Delaware.
Fortman said the Northwest Arterial Corridor Analysis (NWACA), which began in December 2020, just ahead of the initial development discussions in the area, was meant to analyze the possibility of Merrick Parkway being extended to become an arterial street in the city.
“We were just a little bit ahead of bringing this study forward to look at Merrick (Boulevard),” Fortman said. “The purpose of doing that is to evaluate Merrick and make sure that, consistent with the thoroughfare plan, is the appropriate place to put an arterial street. And what we have found today is that Merrick Boulevard extending from Troy Road to (U.S. Route) 23 is the appropriate location. It’s not any other alignment; it is Merrick how it is approximately depicted on our thoroughfare plan.”
Fortman said some of the benefits the extension will bring include traffic relief along Central Avenue, Troy Road, and Pennsylvania Avenue, as well as improved connectivity for fire and EMS services.
The extension is expected to be done in a phased approach, beginning with the connection between Cambridge and Troy roads and a roundabout at Troy Road. Fortman said the estimated cost of the phase is $6 million. The second phase, which would include extending the road from Troy Road over the railroad tracks, is estimated to cost $10 million.
Finally, the third phase of the Merrick Parkway extension would see the road connected to U.S. Route 23 at a cost of $10.5 million and would include improvements to the intersection at U.S. Route 23.
Fortman further emphasized that the costs of the projects are purely estimates, and should they not be done in the near future, the estimates could go up with the ever-rising costs in a volatile economy.
NWACA has also looked at the intended extension of Houk Road north to Hills-Miller Road, but Fortman noted there is no current timeframe for the project.
The next phase of the Glenn Parkway extension, which began in 2007, will connect Berlin Station and Curve roads. Weber called the last phase of the Glenn Parkway extension, which was completed three years ago, a “huge success.”
“We still have a lot of roadway to build,” Weber told council. “We still have 7,000 feet — a mile and a third — of roadway to build. It’s not insurmountable, but the costs are obviously going to continue to increase year after year the longer we wait.”
Weber said he believes there is an opportunity to get Glenn Parkway built in the next 10 years, although he noted that some within the city believe it could be done in as little as five years.
The primary benefit to getting Glenn Parkway finished would be to provide a local alternative to traveling on U.S. Route 23, Weber said, noting that any means to decreasing traffic on U.S. Route 23 should be a goal as it is simply “not safe to travel.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.