Westerville News & Public Opinion

5-year capital plan keeps focus on roads

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

For the next five years, Westerville will continue to spend the majority of its capital-improvement dollars on its roadways.

The city unveiled its five-year capital-improvement budget, good from 2014 through 2018, at a special work session last month. The city pulls out the capital-improvement budget for discussion each spring and approves funds for projects as part of its annual budget process in the fall.

About $35 million will be spent on road improvements, ranging from total rebuilding to simple surface treatments, to 152 lane miles in the five-year plan, said City Manager Dave Collinsworth.

Overall, the city plans to spend $37.8 million on general capital improvements during the five-year period.

The entire capital-improvement plan shows $75 million in projects when funds from all city departments, including parks and recreation, electric, water and fire, are factored in.

"We are still spending the overall majority of our capital improvement dollars on our street repair and rehabilitation program," Collinsworth said. "It's a big chunk of the total spending that's occurring."

The focus on roadways is a continuation of the commitment the city made to residents in 2009, when voters passed a 2-percent income tax.

The city committed to setting aside between 20 and 25 percent of the income tax for capital improvements, with the intention of addressing the backlog of road rehabilitation projects the city had accumulated.

When the tax was approved, the city projected that it would take between 10 and 12 years to clear that backlog, Collinsworth said, and the five-year plan shows the city is on pace to do that.

"I would say that we're on pace to clear that backlog, but we still have another five to seven years to go after this year," Collinsworth said. "This plan reflects doing just that."

Some major roadway projects outlined in the plan include the reconstruction of a portion of Sunbury Road; the continuation of South State Street improvements; and the reconstruction of South Cleveland Avenue.

The reconstruction of Sunbury Road between County Line and Maxtown roads is a joint project with Genoa Township and is projected to cost nearly $7.8 million, with more than $5.4 million coming from federal funds passed through the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.

Construction isn't due to begin until 2018, but because of the federal funds, the city will have to begin engineering the project years in advance and has planned $1 million for that purpose in 2015, Collinsworth said.

With the city completing the first phase of its South State Street improvements this year, work will begin next year on extending those improvements to the north, Collinsworth said.

In 2014, the city plans to spend $2.8 million to relocate the overhead utility lines. In 2015, construction on the roadway will begin, with a planned cost just less than $6.7 million.

The improvements will begin just north of Huber Village Boulevard and will extend to the light at the north end of the Westerville Square shopping plaza. The improvements will include the intersection with Schrock Road.

Once the city completes the South State Street improvements, its attention will shift to the reconstruction of Cleveland Avenue from its junction with Interstate 270 north to past Mount Carmel St. Ann's Hospital.

The improvements will include additional turning lanes on Cleveland Avenue and Schrock Road, as well as the reconfiguration of the ramps of I-270, sidewalk and bike path improvements and landscaping improvements.

"This was also a project that was about $13 million, for which we already have $10 million in funding commitments through (the Ohio Department of Transportation) and MORPC, which is federal dollars that are pass-through funds," Collinsworth said. "We plan to apply for additional funding for this project. ... We believe that we can get just about all of the public improvement costs paid for."

While the city plans to spend $2.4 million next year to purchase property to allow for the project, the majority of the money will be spent on construction in 2016.

Other major projects outlined in the plan include:

* More than $3 million for the improvement of the Hempstead and Walnut bikepath. A new bikepath with drainage improvements and pedestrian bridges will be installed, with the construction split between 2014 and 2015.

* $1.5 million to construct a pedestrian bridge over County Line Road, just east of North State Street. The project will be funded through a tax-increment-financing agreement in the area and through a grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

* $1.3 million for the expansion of Hoff Woods Park, with the development of a parking lot and sports fields in 2016.

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