Rocky Fork Enterprise

Hamilton Road at I-270

ODOT to prepare bridge for vandal fence, light poles

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Gahanna's Hamilton Road bridge at I-270 will be prepared for eight light poles and a vandalism-resistant fence, thanks to the Ohio Department of Transportation.

City service director Dottie Franey told City Council on July 8 that city engineer Karl Wetherholt has shared the city's financial predicament with ODOT following the June 24 council committee meeting. (Wetherholt was absent from the meeting).

Projecting a $12.8 million gap between projected general-fund revenue and identified needs for 2014, council is faced with reducing existing service levels and eliminating anything that isn't a core service.

Council needed to make the decision now to spend less than $10,000 to prepare the bridge for enhancements at a later time. ODOT is preparing to rebuild the bridge, and any preparation work for future enhancements needs to be done soon.

"ODOT told (Wetherholt) that they do have some discretionary powers with projects that involve local public agencies and that they have the ability to absorb costs for mutually beneficial items that are under $10,000," she said. "Specifically, with the Hamilton-270 bridge, ODOT feels strongly enough about the benefits of the enhancements that they agree in this case to absorb the cost of the anchor bolts for both lighting and vandal-fence railing."

Two design contracts already have been approved by council and funded through the industrial-zone TIF.

As a result of ODOT absorbing the costs for the anchor bolts and vandal-fence preparation, the city doesn't have to use any general-fund revenues.

"They feel enhancements are good for the community and the state," Franey said. "They have agreed not to pass those costs on to the city."

Council member Ryan Jolley said that's good news for Gahanna. He said it would have been foolish to forgo preparing the bridge for enhancements that would benefit the city for decades.

"I appreciate your and Karl's work," Jolley said.

Mayor Becky Stinchcomb said she's happy the state saw the benefits.

"I think it's good we keep our options open for 50 years," she said. "A vandal fence is just what it states. At this point and time, we don't have people throwing things off the bridge. There may be in the future a need for the vandal fence and safety lighting. It's not just the marketing. I want to emphasize there's a safety element, and ODOT recognizes that."

In other council discussion, development director Anthony Jones said the Planning Commission favorably recommends Brookewood Construction Co.'s revised site plan that decreases the density by one for a total of 13 new lots on 3.9 acres at 5593 Havens Corners Road.

"For the developer, I want to thank you for your leadership on the project and the re-evaluation," council member Stephen Renner said. "This overall is a much better feel for this area."

He questioned the maintenance of storm-drainage best practices, such as the rain gardens and dry-detention basin.

Developer Doug Maddy said a homeowners association would be in place, and it would oversee rain gardens independently or through a private company.

"A question came up on the plan about rain garden, detention or equal," Maddy said. "Our definition of equal is not to change the design. We had planned to put native plants in there. Due to feedback from residents and the Planning Commission, we put in grass. It will be a rain garden, but due to the other feedback, we removed some of the plants."

Council member Beryl Anderson asked Maddy for final thoughts or closing statements to address the opponents of the design.

"I think we've been at this plan a long time," he said. "We've massaged this thing and changed and altered. I think we addressed the concerns of the neighbors. We made changes to this plan to accommodate comments from staff and their engineering department. I think this is a fabulous plan before you folks."

Council member David Samuel said it's time to move on and make a decision on the proposed Meadowbrooke subdivision at the July 15 meeting.

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