City officials are readying a new portion of the New Albany International Business Park for development with improvements to a section of Beech Road.
The city is finalizing design details for roadway improvements to nearly 2 miles of Beech between Morse and Smith's Mill roads, city engineer Mike Barker said.
City leaders are looking to award the project to a construction company at the beginning of November following a project bid, Barker said. The project should be completed by the end of next year.
"Beech Road as it is today is certainly in need of repair," he said.
The pavement is falling apart and the draining system is insufficient, Barker said.
The improvements also will help usher in new development projects by enabling the city to add infrastructure to expand the business park in the Beech Road corridor, Barker said.
Facebook recently announced plans to build a $750 million, 970,000-square-foot data-center complex on 345 acres on the east side of Beech and south of the state Route 161 interchange.
Meanwhile, the west side of Beech includes residential homes, said community-development director Jennifer Chrysler.
Although the city doesn't have a timeframe for the new area of the business park to be developed, city officials' strategic planning -- which includes infrastructure -- is based on a 15- to 20-year horizon, Chrysler said.
"Our goal is to have shovel-ready sites available to respond to opportunities," she said.
City leaders try to determine the right mix of industry clusters and infrastructure to support economic development, Chrysler said.
In the Beech Road corridor, the city is looking to expand its technology cluster and create an opportunity for a corporate technology campus, she said.
The Beech Road improvements include the addition of on-street bike lanes and leisure trails on either side of the roadway from Morse Road to Smith's Mill Road, Barker said.
North of the intersection with Morse Road for about 500 feet, Beech Road will be two lanes with no median, Barker said. For about the next 3,000 feet northbound, the road will be two lanes with a center median, he said. From there to the intersection with Smith's Mill, Beech will be a four-lane road with a center median, he said.
Although the design cost for the project will not exceed $800,000, Barker said, the city isn't sharing construction estimates because the design is still in development.
Although the city is pursuing grant opportunities, the project primarily will be funded locally, he said.
City leaders are contemplating a complete closure of the southern portion of Beech between Worthington and Morse roads, said city spokesman Scott McAfee, although the timing and duration of the closure is yet to be determined.
Right now, the city estimates vehicles make about 4,000 daily trips along the southern portion of Beech from Worthington to Morse roads, McAfee said.
Because up to 1,700 construction workers are expected to work on the Facebook facility, the number of trips along the stretch of road could double, he said.
"We also know that there are thousands of acres of developable land in this general vicinity that this stretch of Beech could facilitate traffic toward," McAfee said.
"Part of our success is building shovel-ready sites with proper infrastructure in place, so we are building out this road and other infrastructure today to ensure its ability to properly move traffic for development that could occur 10 or even 20 years from now."