Whitehall News

Outside the city's right of way

Traffic-signal upgrades pushed back to next year

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A $6.4 million project to upgrade traffic signals in Whitehall will consume a little more time and money than anticipated.

The upgrades will be for signals on East Broad Street, East Main Street and South Hamilton Road and one signal at North Hamilton and Poth Road.

Some of the city's existing signalizing infrastructure is outside the city's right of way.

An ordinance extending a contract with E.P. Ferris for right-of-way planning was introduced to council committees April 9. The ordinance was expected to pass after its first reading and as an emergency measure at the April 16 meeting of Whitehall City Council, after ThisWeek's press time.

The ordinance would authorize the expenditure of an amount not to exceed $159,000 for developing a right-of-way plan in association with the signal upgrade and would allow an extension of an existing contract for up to $500,000.

"The original contract was for design and engineering, but then we discovered that some of our traffic signals are not in our right of way," Whitehall service director Ray Ogden said.

In most instances, the oversights are a foot or less, Ogden said.

"Sometimes the placement of utilities concerning right of way (many years ago) was not as exact as they are today," Ogden said.

The need to develop a right-of-way plan and to obtain the required easements for the project have delayed its start and added a few dollars to its bottom line, Ogden said.

The project discussion began in late 2010 after the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission approved a $5.8 million grant for Whitehall to upgrade the signals in phases. Engineering was supposed to begin in 2011 and construction in 2012, with the Ohio Department of Transportation overseeing the project.

Ogden said ODOT needed a few additional months to study and determine the best approach for upgrading the 30-plus traffic signals.

ODOT also has adjusted the project cost from $5.8 million to $6.4 million to account for right-of-way acquisition and for an overall 10-percent contingency to apply to all aspects of the project.

"We're anxious to get started on this project," Ogden said.

After the right-of-way acquisition and designs are completed this year, construction is expected to begin in 2014.

The Ohio Department of Transportation will reimburse the city for the estimated $6.4 million project.

New signals at all intersection on the three arterial roads will have mast arms identical to those on South Yearling Road in the city's Olde Towne District.

Cameras mounted on mast arms will determine if any vehicles have approached left-turn lanes, and all signals will be synchronized to those in neighboring Columbus to improve traffic flow through the city.

In other matters:

• An April 9 resolution was introduced to honor the Whitehall-Yearling High School bowling team for qualifying for the state tournament.

• Several ordinances were scheduled for a second reading April 16, including an ordinance authorizing the city to transfer ownership of a parcel at the northeast corner of South Hamilton and Etna roads to the Whitehall Community Investment Corp.

• Whitehall paid $2,600 in back taxes owed on the abandoned parcel last used as a gasoline station about three years ago.

The parcel is zoned for the same use, and the city has an offer pending from a buyer interested in opening a convenience store and gasoline station, council president Jim Graham said. Acquiring the parcel afforded the city an opportunity to return the abandoned parcel to a viable use, Graham said.

The ordinance was expected to be read by title only and advance to a third reading during the May 7 council meeting.

• Also scheduled for a second reading was an ordinance that approves a special permit to allow the operation of a child daycare center at a suite at 225 Fairway Blvd.

It is scheduled for a May 7 public hearing.

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