The city will extend the Morse Road improvements to Cleveland Avenue, with construction beginning in July.

The city will extend the Morse Road improvements to Cleveland Avenue, with construction beginning in July.

In Phase II of a project meant to help revitalize the Northland area, the city will add bike lanes and landscaped medians and improve street lights, traffic lights, curbs, sidewalks, street signs and stormwater facilities.

Phase II of the project will improve a 1.2-mile stretch of Morse Road between Karl Road and Cleveland Avenue. The improvements will cost $13.4-million and are scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2010.

Phase I of the project, which cost more than $12-million and encompassed Morse Road from Indianola Avenue to Karl Road, was completed in May 2007.

There will be lane closures while the project is being completed, but traffic will be maintained in both directions, said Mary Carran Webster, Columbus public service assistant director.

"There will always be through traffic," Webster said. "For the people in the area, it will be very much like Phase I."

Webster said the purpose of the improvements is to enhance the economic climate in the Northland area and to make the Morse Road corridor more pedestrian friendly, with the bike lanes and landscaped medians.

"The whole purpose of this project is to help revitalize the Northland area," Webster said.

Northland Community Council President Dave Paul said the area has reaped the benefits of the first phase of Morse Road improvements.

Paul said there are no statistics regarding business vacancies in the area, but he said the public perception is that there are fewer vacant storefronts along the portion of Morse Road that underwent improvements a year ago.

"A lot of spaces that previously were vacant are filled," Paul said.

He said residents would like to see the next round of improvements have the same impact on the leg of Morse Road between Cleveland Avenue and Karl Road.

"We're hoping that Morse Road II will have the same effect on the east side of the road, which could certainly use some help," Paul said.

The city began improvements to Morse Road in 2005 as a way to revitalize the area near the former Northland Mall, which closed in 2002.

Also to boost economic development in the area, the city allocated $3.7-million to expand Tamarack Boulevard, which will serve as the service road for Menard's, a future anchor to the Northland Village development that will replace the closed mall.

Those improvements, which began earlier this year, included new stormwater pipes that will be necessary for the Morse Road improvement project.

jnesbitt@thisweeknews.com