You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Such is the logic behind Pickerington's plan to hire a landscape architecture firm to help design the entranceway into the city as part of the state Route 256 Safety Project.

Pickerington City Council's Safety Committee voted 3-0 to approve a $28,500 contract with Edsall & Associates, which will assist in the overall design of the state Route 256 Safety Project with respect to what Pickerington City Engineer Greg Bachman terms the "gateway" to the city.

Now the contract needs to be approved by Pickerington City Council.

"Presently, the state Route 256 entrance into Pickerington looks like an extension of I-70," Bachman said.

"It is a sea of asphalt," he said.

"The 256 Safety Project is a great opportunity to improve the look and feel of this entrance into Pickerington."

The 256 Safety Project is expected to cost $6.8 million to extend 256's third southbound lane from Hunter's Run to Refugee Road, add a third northbound lane at the Interstate 70 entrance ramp and resurface 256.

In addition, traffic signals will be converted to color-coordinated mast arm signals with backplates, larger street name signs and street lights will be installed and center landscape medians will be added.

ODOT will provide funding for $6 million dollars of the project.

Pickerington signed a contract with the engineering design firm W.E. Stilson of Columbus for $442,329 for the design phase of the project, 90 percent of which is paid by the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Edsall's services aren't covered by any ODOT funding, and the city will pay out-of-pocket to retain the company's services.

"When the Stilson contract was approved they had a sub-consultant in there that ODOT doesn't allow with Safety Grant funding," Bachman said.

Bachman said it is important to have Edsall on board to help define the look of the 256 corridor because "we're trying to create a brand for Pickerington."

Bachman said Edsall will be involved in improving the gateway feature at the northwest corner of 256 and Tussing Road. Edsall will select the mast arms and both the color coordination and luminaries on the mast arms.

Bachman said the landscape architectural firm will also develop a landscape plan for the 256 corridor, "including the center lane raised medians to give the corridor more of a boulevard feel."

He said Edsall will make street tree recommendations for eventual replacement of existing tree lawn trees because "the existing trees do not have enough room to continue to grow."

Bachman said the overall design of the 256 Safety Project will be "80 to 90 percent complete by June, with design completed by September."

He said after that there will be design review comments by ODOT, followed by right-of-way acquisition.

"Construction money is not available until 2015, with construction scheduled to take that whole year, (from) April to November," Bachman said.