Efforts to improve Pickerington's transportation infrastructure received a major boost with the announcement that $3.5 million in safety improvement grants have been awarded to the city by the Ohio Department of Transportation.
The grant will cover right of way acquisition and construction of improvements on Refugee Road at the state Route 256 intersection with a 10-percent local match.
"Anything after that we have to come up with on our own or through other grants/funding sources," said Scott Tourville, Pickerington city engineer.
The money will go toward widening Refugee Road to accommodate the expected traffic increase primarily because of the new OhioHealth medical campus development.
"The project will add through lanes and turn lanes to Refugee (Road) at the intersection," Tourville said.
"Each direction will have a right turn lane, two through lanes and two left turn lanes," Tourville said.
"We will be adding some access control at the intersection as well as widening Refugee Road from the intersection to the west."
The Refugee Road widening project will be performed in conjunction, but not concurrent with, the state Route 256 Safety Project, which will involve improvements from Interstate 70 to the Kroger/Giant Eagle traffic signal. That project is scheduled to get underway in 2015.
In addition to resurfacing, other improvements for the Route 256 Safety Project include using the road's existing width to allow for three southbound lanes, additional turn lanes, sidewalks and signal hardware.
Pickerington received $5 million in ODOT grants for the 256 Safety Project in 2012. The latest grant award for Refugee Road improvements now means the city will be receiving $8.5 million total in ODOT safety grants, a figure Pickerington City Manager Bill Vance termed as "historically significant."
Tourville said he hopes the Refugee Road/state Route 256 intersection improvements will occur as soon as 2016.
"It will depend on how much flexibility the funds have, how quickly we can get our own projects designed and right of way acquired, and the schedule of any other funding we are hoping to secure," he said.
"Ideally we are able to make significant improvements from corporation limit to corporation limit with this project," Tourville said.
He said the city is not done, however, seeking additional funding assistance for roadwork projects.
"We are going to be applying for a (Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission) grant in a few weeks as well that will enable us to really ensure that Refugee Road is widened to accommodate traffic well into the future," Tourville said.