Newark is working to purchase rights of way and land needed for the alignment of Waterworks Road and Deo Drive on the north side.

Newark is working to purchase rights of way and land needed for the alignment of Waterworks Road and Deo Drive on the north side.

"The right-of-way acquisition consultant, ME Cos., is in the process of finishing all of the appraisals now, and they have been negotiating on the properties with the completed appraisals," city engineer Brian Morehead said. "Once the negotiations are completed, the properties will be scheduled to sign the closing documents, and the property owners will be paid for the purchase. This will take place on all of the properties over the next few months."

Newark City Council's finance committee last week voted unanimously to forward a $1.2-million appropriation to council for consideration. The funds would be used to purchase land for the project.

Morehead said 27 properties must be purchased for the project. That includes right of way in the front of three homes on Stewart Street and part of one property on Taylor Avenue so the city could install two cul-de-sacs on Stewart and Taylor.

"Our initial cost estimate for all of the land needed for the project was just under $1.2-million," Morehead said. "We are hoping this covers those costs completely. If not, the city will need to come up with whatever difference is needed."

The Deo Drive-Waterworks alignment is expected to alleviate traffic congestion in the area. The city plans to bring the end of Waterworks Road south to align with Deo Drive. The existing portion of Waterworks, east of the tracks, would become a cul-de-sac at the railroad, with no railroad crossing. The Waterworks intersection with Mount Vernon Road would remain open, but the traffic signal would be removed. The railroad crossing would have to be moved south to the new aligned road.

The project is expected to cost more than $3-million. The Licking County Area Transportation Authority (LCATS) has committed $836,970 to the project as part of the local match, and Newark is looking to implement a tax-increment-financing (TIF) district to help fund the project. Through a TIF, increased property values on land designated in the TIF district are diverted to the city and used to pay off infrastructure debts.

The TIF would include properties south of Deo Drive, between Mount Vernon Road (state Route 13) and North 21st Street. It also would include a small piece north of Deo Drive, just east of 21st Street, as well as a few properties on the west side of Mount Vernon Road, between Van Tassel and Gladys avenues, and the former Big Bear site, north of Myrtle Avenue. Another small piece would be included on the west side of 21st Street, south of Pimlico Ave.

The alignment project is expected to begin this year.