A reconstructed Waltham Road will include the installation of the city's first modern roundabout.
Upper Arlington City Council agreed unanimously Monday, June 24, to extend an approximately $2.36-million contract to Park Enterprise to rebuild Waltham Road from Northwest Boulevard to North Star Road.
Plans also call for the construction of a traffic roundabout at Waltham's intersection with North Star Road, where Waltham connects to Kinnear Road in Columbus.
According to city officials, the road reconstruction is needed to address general deterioration, and the roundabout is the best option available to reduce vehicle stacking and to calm traffic, which is expected to increase as Ohio State University begins to develop land along Kinnear Road.
"OSU has a master plan for its western lands," Upper Arlington City Engineer Dave Parkinson said. "When that (area) grows, the traffic counts in that section of town will grow with it.
"The roundabout is the cheapest, most efficient and most effective option. It also provides the least amount of impact to residents on the west side of North Star."
Parkinson said an exact timeline for the work has yet to be finalized, but he's hopeful the reconstruction of Waltham from Northwest Boulevard to North Star Road can begin in July.
If that occurs, he expects the roundabout to be open to traffic by next spring.
Emma Speight, the city's community affairs director, said residents in the area will be able to access their properties throughout the work, but the project will substantially alter traffic.
"Traffic will be significantly disrupted in the immediate vicinity of the project," Speight said. "The city is completely reconstructing Waltham Road and the intersection of Waltham and North Star.
"These improvements cannot be completed without road closures and detours," she added. "We would encourage motorists that do not need to use this corridor to avoid it during the construction."
The planned project is the second phase of Waltham Road's reconstruction.
In 2010, the city installed a new water line on Waltham from Andover to North Star and that section of the road was also rebuilt.
That work, which also included the installation of a six-foot wide sidewalk on the south side of Waltham, street lights and the construction of a new parking lane on Waltham's south side, cost $942,000.
Speight said the city planned to complete Waltham's reconstruction from Northwest Boulevard to North Star Road at that time, but the work was delayed after Upper Arlington secured an $824,000 grant and $276,000 loan for the roundabout through the Ohio Public Works Commission.
With the OPWC funding and loan, the city's initial costs for the project will be $1.262 million. It will have 24 years to repay the loan.
Essex Road resident Madelon Dritz told council she opposes plans for the roundabout.
"It's confusing," Dritz said. "People do not like roundabouts. They are not pedestrian-friendly."
Dritz added that she would lead a petition drive calling for the roundabout to be removed from the Waltham Road reconstruction plans.
"We will get as many names as you want because people do not want it," she said.
Before ultimately approving the contract for the work, several council members indicated they hadn't heard an outpouring of opposition to the roundabout plans. They said the roundabout would work to efficiently move traffic through the area without requiring the city to substantially cut into residents' properties.
"A traditional intersection would've actually taken more property away from property owners and made the intersection more commercial in nature," Council Vice President Frank Ciotola said. "I am still going to support this. I think it's going to be the right thing to do."
In addition to the street reconstruction and roundabout, plans call for the installation of a 10-foot wide sidewalk around the east half of the roundabout on the east side of North Star from Waltham to a nearby OSU bike path, Speight said.
A six-foot wide sidewalk also will be constructed around the west half of the roundabout and along the west side of North Star from Waltham to the project's starting point, and street lights and a new storm sewer system will be installed.