When the spring construction season begins in Canal Winchester, the $2.4 million Gender Road Phase 4 improvement project will be at the top of the to-do list.

The city will open submitted bids from contractors on Friday, March 2, with the hope of sending a recommendation to City Council by March 19.

Bill Sims, Canal Winchester's construction services administrator, said he expects work to begin around May 1, with completion slated for late for November.

Sims expects the contract for the project to be awarded by April 1.

The heavily traveled Gender Road corridor is an access point to U.S. Route 33 and serves about 35,000 vehicles daily, many of them driven by commuters who live in developing areas of Fairfield and Pickaway counties.

"Most of the roadway work is widening work," Sims said. "Through the course of the project, there will definitely be lane closures. There will be some utility work as well. The project has multiple phases to it to minimize the (inconvenience to the) traveling public."

The city learned a year ago that the Ohio Public Works Commission would supply $2.1 million for the project through a 55 percent loan and 45 percent grant.

Public Service Director Matt Peoples said at the time the city is in a position to provide the rest of the needed funding.

Phase 4 is just the latest in a series of projects to improve the corridor:

* Phase 1 cost about $3 million and involved upgrading the intersection of Winchester and Gender roads.

* Phase 2 was a $4.5 million joint project with the city of Columbus.

* Phase 3 was a roundabout project that cost about $2.1 million, Peoples said.

Phase 4 includes improvements at the intersection of Gender and Groveport roads, plus construction of additional turn lanes and through lanes to provide a more-efficient flow of traffic at the intersection.

The project also includes construction of an additional southbound lane and a dedicated right-turn lane for westbound Groveport Road traffic to Gender Road and a second left-turn lane for eastbound Groveport Road traffic to Gender Road.

Traffic signals will be upgraded and street lighting will go up at the intersections between Groveport Road and Walnut Street.

"We will be upgrading the signal, like the black masts at other intersections, and adding more lighting and extending the bike path to the west," Sims said.

A four-day closure of Gender Road between Walnut and Canal streets will be necessary to upgrade the railroad crossing, he said. I&O Railroad has agreed to pay half of construction costs.

The closure will be scheduled from a Thursday afternoon until Tuesday morning after school is out for the summer, Sims said.

Crews will replace the wooden ties with what Sims called a concrete tub system that eliminates the use of ties and surrounds the metal rails with concrete.

"It's been about 10 years or so since the last (improvements) were made there," Sims said. "With the traffic volumes on Gender Road, it really needed a different system. We contacted the railroad and were able to reach an agreement with them."

The work also includes storm sewer and water line replacements.