Early design work is underway for Worthington's Northeast Gateway project as the city prepares to spend more than $40,000 to fund a railroad study.

Worthington City Council on March 6 unanimously approved the funding.

The Northeast Gateway is the moniker city leaders have chosen for the renovation and redesign of the intersection of Sancus Boulevard and Worthington-Galena, East Wilson Bridge and Huntley roads on the north side of the city just south of Interstate 270.

In January 2016, City Council approved a plan to transform the congested crossroads into two intersections slightly east and west of the current location.

To continue preparation for the project, the city will work with railroads CSX and Norfolk and Southern, as well as the Ohio Rail Development Commission, on the study.

According to service and engineering director Dan Whited, the plans won't change the railroad routes, but will necessitate a study to determine what "safety enhancements" need made and how signals and crossing gates will change.

The railroad crossings are not part of the current intersection but will be close enough -- just to the south and west -- of the new intersections that the ORDC required the study.

"It's not really complicated and it's not hugely convoluted," Whited said.

"We just want to be sure we're maintaining our coordination with them. And the main thing is that the city of Worthington has a strong focus on bike and pedestrian (access) and we want to be sure we maintain that."

While city staff members and the ORDC are looking into the tracks, City Council instructed Whited to investigate whether the area could become a "quiet zone," or a stretch of track with added indicators and lights that allows trains to pass without sounding horns.

"We have many residents who have asked about that," City Council President Bonnie Michael said.

The $40,000 outlay for the engineering and design represents a small portion of the massive project. Estimates of the entire project's budget have exceeded $13 million, which includes a variety of grants and funding sources.

With the beginning of construction still at least two years away, Whited said, city officials simply are happy with any progress at this point.

"We're just excited to get this project moving forward incrementally," he said.

aking@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekAndrew