Dublin is hoping for more than just concrete when the Interstate 270/U.S. Route 33 interchange is improved.
They want art.
Dublin City Council members last week gave staff members the OK to look into attractive landscaping and artists to stamp the concrete poured for new legs of the interchange that has been largely unchanged since its construction in the 1970s.
Work on the interchange is expected to start in 2014, if $51.5 million in funding is approved by the Transportation Review Advisory Commission this month, said Dublin Senior Project Manager Sara Ott.
Talks of aesthetics "to bring it up to Dublin standards" have been ongoing as design of the interchange improvements gets underway, Ott said.
"We're talking about a signature look," she said. "We want it to look unlike any other in the state."
For landscaping, Dublin is looking at a pastoral setting with colorful plants and rolling hills.
For art, Ott said, the city must find something the Ohio Department of Transportation is comfortable with and the answer could be reliefs on the concrete of the interchange.
"We're exploring an artist that has a proven record of working with 15 departments of transportation around the country," Ott said.
Dublin was previously planning artwork for the Emerald Parkway Bridge that crosses U.S. Route 33, but Ott said that's now off the table in favor of sprucing up the interchange.
"This is the largest public undertaking in Dublin," Ott said. "We contacted the Dublin Arts Council on this."
Dublin awarded the DAC $150,000 for the Emerald Parkway Bridge project, but the DAC board has agreed to give it back to help fund the beautification of the I-270/U.S. 33 interchange.
"They stepped up to a higher level and said 'This would be great for the community,' " Councilman John Reiner said.
Reiner, also the liaison between council and the DAC, said they would be happy to be involved in the public input process for the art.
The public art project will be different than previous, especially because the approval needed from ODOT. Ott also said a public call for artists is unlikely.
"There are very few people who are in this niche of public art who can do this well and do it in our time frame," she said, adding that including public input is another element that makes an artist for the project difficult to find.
Ott did not have definite numbers for adding art and aesthetically pleasing landscaping to the project but told council members it could cost up to $900,000.