As the city of Delaware moves ahead with efforts to improve the congested east-side intersection known as the Point, the question of how the city will fund its contribution to the $25.2 million project remains outstanding.
Delaware officials intend to partner with multiple agencies to replace the railroad bridge at the intersection of U.S. Route 36 and state Route 37 with a new structure. Constructing a longer span would allow the roadways -- also known as Central Avenue and William Street -- to be widened.
The project also would lead to improvements at the intersection of routes 36 and 37 with state Route 521 just east of the Point and construction of a new multiuse path.
Grant funding from the Federal Highway Administration, the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission is expected to cover about 75 percent of the project's price tag. But even with the outside funding, the city will face the challenge of covering about $6.2 million in costs.
Delaware City Council on Nov. 13 unanimously gave City Manager Tom Homan the OK to enter into a local public-agency agreement with ODOT on the project and execute contracts for construction, design and right-of-way acquisition. City Engineer Bill Ferrigno said the decision to move forward "very, very aggressively" on the project could help the city solve its funding problem.
"The advice coming from the state is to demonstrate the city's commitment to the project and keep it moving fast," he said.
Ferrigno said the city's administration intends to ask council to approve a $1.1 million appropriation for design work at the panel's next meeting. He said the city will receive reimbursement for about 90 percent of that cost through an ODOT grant.
Ferrigno said moving ahead with the design process "(puts) us in a much better position ... to go back for further requests for federal and state funds."
Homan said the city also could lessen its funding obligation by partnering with Delaware County on the project. He said the regional significance of the Point intersection could lead county officials to shoulder a share of the costs.
"We feel there's a compelling reason, a compelling need to have the county participate financially, so we'll continue those conversations," he said.
City officials previously saw a proposed 0.15 percent income-tax increase as a potential way to raise local dollars for the Point project.
City voters in 2016 overwhelmingly rejected the increase, which also would have funded other transportation projects and road maintenance.
While city officials stressed they are moving quickly, Homan said it's important to remember the project will not be complete for several years, even if the process goes smoothly.
"It's long-term. You're talking about a project that will probably go to construction in (2021) or (2022)," he said. " ... A project of this complexity requires that amount of time."
Ferrigno said in the meantime, the city will work toward finalizing a design and earning environmental clearances for the project.
"These next 18 to 24 months (are) critical," he said. "It's going to define the project, define the approach."
Homan said he expects multiple forums will be conducted to collect feedback as the project progresses.
"There will be a civic engagement, public-participation process involved along the way," he said.