Delaware officials hope construction begins on a $25 million project to relieve congestion at the busy Point intersection on the city's east side in five years.

City Engineer Bill Ferrigno went before Delaware City Council on June 26 to discuss the future of the congested intersection of East Central Avenue, also known as state Route 37, and East William Street, also known as U.S. Route 36. Discussions of the intersection in recent years have focused on the possibility of replacing an existing railroad bridge with a span that allows the construction of additional lanes at the Point.

Ferrigno said the latest estimate of the project's cost is about $25.2 million. He said the city so far has identified about $19.5 million in funding for the project, leaving a gap of about $6 million.

The majority of the project -- about $13 million -- will be funded by federal dollars attributable to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. The Ohio Department of Transportation has committed $4.5 million in safety and Transportation Review Advisory Council funds for the project.

"Those funds together will get us far past the design (and) right-of-way-acquisition (phases) and really prepare us to be in a position to go to construction," Ferrigno said.

Despite the gap, Ferrigno said the city is in "a very good position" for such a large project. He said the city could go back to ODOT and other partner agencies to seek additional funding for the project in the coming years.

Delaware will move forward with the effort despite city voters' decision in November to overwhelmingly reject a plan to raise the city's income-tax rate from 1.85 percent to 2 percent. Leaders estimated the increase, if approved, would have generated about $2.2 million per year for the city to put toward increased road maintenance and large-scale transportation projects.

City Manager Tom Homan said the ballot issue's failure was never a death knell for the Point expansion project. He said the city remains committed to the effort despite a smaller pool of resources from which to draw matching funds.

"That's the situation we're in now, where we have to rely on these other partners and our own resources," he said.

Homan said the city will reach out to Delaware County officials to see what the county can contribute to the effort in terms of funding.

"I think there's regional significance to this (project)," he said. "I think there's a case to be made that Delaware County consider partnering with us."

The city's current timeline for the project shows final design work wrapping up in 2021. Construction could begin midway through 2022.

Ferrigno said the city's role in the project should be largely completed by that point.

"Our part in the project is to get through the design and environmental clearance," Ferrigno said.

"At that point, the project will be turned over to the state. They will acquire right of way and they will construct the project."

Homan said city officials are not focused solely on improving traffic at the intersection, but also nearby stretches of roadway.

"We've not forgotten the current state of East Central (Avenue) -- the deplorable state that it's in," he said. "We're currently evaluating not only how to fix that road but how to improve the capacity and the movements."

Homan said the city also will look into forming partnerships with outside agencies on a project to improve the street, which he said holds regional importance.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@TWGallick