In the infrastructure improvements world, many months can pass from the start of the planning process to actual implementation.
Studies, engineering designs, opportunities for public input, plus prioritizing and scheduling work within a busy capital improvements program and assigning limited dollars can all slow the process. As a result, when work does finally begin, we sometimes have to remind ourselves of the whys and wherefores that lead us to this point.
So it is with Waltham Road.
In July, Phase 2 of the Waltham Road reconstruction project will finally begin, after a process several years in the making.
The project focuses on the section between Northwest Boulevard and North Star Road, and is comprised of complete road reconstruction, installation of a sidewalk and a parking lane on the south side of the street. It also includes construction of a new roundabout at the Waltham Road intersection with North Star Road and Kinnear Road.
Work on this began back in 2009, when the city engineer determined a water line replacement and reconstruction project would be necessary for Waltham between Andover and North Star roads.
Knowing of some safety challenges along Waltham -- primarily resulting from its function as a community gateway for traffic heading from Kinnear Road and Ohio State University -- and recognizing the opportunity to rethink how this road was configured, a consultant was hired to prepare enhancement options.
In February 2010, the public was invited to take a look at these concepts, which included improvements to pedestrian and bicycle access and safety, as well as aesthetic enhancements. They also proposed a roundabout as a logical option for the intersection at North Star and Kinnear, recognizing that the intersection would see an increase of traffic over time as OSU's west campus evolves and develops.
The first phase was undertaken in 2011, with water line replacement for the entire stretch, and road reconstruction between Andover and Northwest. The question of whether the city would pursue installation of a roundabout in Phase 2 essentially came down to cost, so the engineering division set forth to see if it could secure grant money.
This effort proved successful, with a grant/loan totaling $1.1 million secured from the Ohio Public Works Commission -- with the cost of the roundabout at $1.2 million. And while the initial plan was for Phase 2 to occur in 2012, the work was delayed until now so that the engineering design work to tie a roundabout into the reconstruction project could be completed.
As the project draws closer, we've received a few questions and concerns about the roundabout, so I think it's important to note a couple of things: What will be installed is a "modern roundabout," designed to maximize safety and convenience for motorists traveling through the intersection and to accommodate any growth in volume in the years ahead.
It's actually less costly than our other option, which would have been to redesign the signalized intersection with added turn lanes.
And while roundabouts are becoming more commonplace in other communities, they won't be popping up all over UA -- there are only a few select places where their application may make sense.
If you wish to receive updates on the Waltham Road construction project in the coming months, visit uaoh.net and register to be included on our email list. Or make sure your UA Alerts household profile has you registered to receive constructions updates. If you have questions about the project, call the Engineering Division at 614-583-5360.
Sidewalk options for Lane Road
It's been several years since the paint markings along Lane Road were altered in an attempt to provide a safe area along the curb that would alert motorists to the likely presence of bicyclists, joggers and walkers.
While this measure has helped, many rightly feel this is not the best solution for meeting the needs of non-vehicular traffic traveling between our community and Columbus' park along the river.
Earlier in the year, a multiuse path option for Lane Road was put before Upper Arlington City Council for discussion when the city had the opportunity to pursue grant funds. And while the sentiment from many Lane Road residents was not in favor of a multiuse path and council ultimately chose not to pursue the grant, more interest was shown by some Lane Road residents in the installation of sidewalks along this popular corridor, both at the council meeting and since that time.
To help facilitate further discussion on the options for pursuing sidewalk connectivity along Lane Road, the city has scheduled a meeting for Monday, July 1, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Thompson Park North Shelter.
Members of Upper Arlington City Council and city staff will provide some history and events leading up to the public meeting, and share options for expanding sidewalks on Lane Road through a citizen-initiated sidewalk petition process.
Whether you live directly on Lane Road or in a nearby neighborhood, your input on the value of sidewalks for this busy street is welcome and encouraged. Additional information can be found at uaoh.net.
Theodore J. Staton is Upper Arlington's city manager.