Heath officials are trying to determine the possibility of moving water lines as part of the state Route 79 safety improvements, which will begin in 2011.

Heath officials are trying to determine the possibility of moving water lines as part of the state Route 79 safety improvements, which will begin in 2011.

Heath utilities director John Geller said it would be helpful if the city could move water lines underneath state Route 79 (Hebron Road) to the east side of the road, between Oberlin Drive and 30th Street.

"It gets the (water) main to the side of the road so we would not have to tear up 79 if we have a (water) break," he told Heath City Council's safety committee June 23.

James Roberts of Jobes Henderson & Associates Inc. has consulted with the city on the Hebron Road project and said moving the lines would be a good idea.

"Then, essentially, you would have no active water lines underneath 79," he said.

Heath City Councilman Tim Kelley asked if all water lines would be removed, even from turning lanes.

Roberts said they would but then questioned the cost of moving water lines near 30th Street, though.

"Can we afford to do it right now?" he asked.

Geller said the city would like to get cost estimates on the project before determining if it's feasible.

Heath Mayor Richard Waugh suggested getting the price first and then seeking grant money.

"We have time, but it's something we should think about," Geller said.

The Hebron Road project includes the installation of a median from Hopewell Drive to Andover Road. Breaks in the median would allow limited left turns. The current center turning lane will be removed.

The two intersections -- at Andover Road and Oberlin Drive and at Putnam Road and Radian Drive -- will be aligned but both will retain traffic signals. Left turns will be limited into 22nd Street and into the Southgate Shopping Center. Southbound traffic would not be able to turn left onto Fieldson Drive, for example.

Most of the work will begin in 2010, but the $5-million project will take a while to complete, perhaps into 2012, Geller said.

Since the 2003 traffic study that indicated problems on Hebron Road, the city and state have completed several improvements to prevent accidents.

The city already has realigned 30th Street's intersection at Hebron Road, as well as the Heath Road intersection at Dorsey Mill Road.

Additional lanes were added on Irving-Wick Drive and at Hopewell Drive and Hebron Road.

Hebron Road also was widened in the southern portion of Heath, with a connector road to Thornwood Drive reconstructed.

Through the state's transportation-enhancement funding, Heath will be required to pay for the project's design and only 20 percent of construction costs. The state will fund the other 80 percent of construction costs.

Heath Fire Chief Mark Huggins introduced another idea to council several weeks ago after being approached by a company that sells equipment to adjust traffic signals for emergency vehicles.

Huggins said there is a way to adjust signals so that lights could be timed to allow emergency vehicles green-light access to Hebron Road from Heath Road. The timing would be used only in an emergency.

Huggins was expected to get more information and prices and present the idea again at a later meeting.

lwince@thisweeknews.com