With a tight budget, the Gahanna engineer's office has cut back on the number of road projects in 2009.

With a tight budget, the Gahanna engineer's office has cut back on the number of road projects in 2009.

"We did cut back on our overlay budget this year," assistant city engineer Mike Andrako said. "We still want to make sure that we overlay a decent amount of streets."

Andrako said engineers want to make sure several streets are repaved this year. In a typical year, the city paves 15 to 20 streets. This year, it will pave only eight to 10.

"We want to make sure that we pave the worst streets," Andrako said. "We have money to get the worst of the worse done."

Every year, after the roads are free of snow and salt, city engineers drive on all city streets to rank their condition. Streets that rank the worst are given priority, he said. Streets with a lot of potholes also have priority.

"The good thing about this program is that we can pave up to the money that we have," Andrako said. "Streets always last until the next year."

Andrako said 2008 was a good year, and city engineers paved quite a number of streets.

"The years that we are low on funds, we definitely make it up the following year," Andrako said.

In 2008, westbound lanes of U.S. Route 62 were repaved. Andrako said that was one of the worst sections in town, and it took a large percentage of the 2008 street budget.

Plans call for installing a new traffic signal at the old Big Bear site on Hamilton Road -- the future site of the Ohio State University medical offices.

Gahanna City Council approved Lincoln Circle modifications in 2008. Andrako said he hopes the modifications could occur in 2009. Advanced Civil Engineer was selected as the consultant for the design work.

Andrako said he would like to start construction on Lincoln Circle in the summer and incorporate improvements in the overlay program. Incorporating Lincoln Circle could entice contractors to bid on the overlay program, he said.

Plans for improving traffic flow at the Strawberry Plaza Shopping Center call for making Lincoln Circle West a southbound, one-way road, with postal drop boxes on the east side.

Work also should begin on improvements to Route 62, from Beecher Road to YMCA Place. Andrako said Beecher is being widened from two to three lanes. Curbs, gutters, sidewalks and a biking path will be added. The city received an Ohio Public Works Commission grant for the project.

"We are almost finished with design," Andrako said. "We will have a public-involvement meeting at the YMCA some time in January and go over the different construction phases and how it will impact traffic."

The project was a priority for OPWC funds because of the sidewalk and bike paths incorporated into the project, making Route 62 more pedestrian-friendly. Residents will be able to walk safely from nearby neighborhoods to the YMCA, Andrako said. Construction could start in March or April.

Looking for different funding sources like grants and loans will remain a priority for the city, especially in a tight budget year, Andrako said. OPWC has been a great option for the city thus far, he said.

"We are always looking for creative funding options," he said.

tstubbs@thisweeknews.com