As the Uptown Improvement project prepares to get underway, Westerville residents should be prepared for changes that could affect their travel this summer.

Scott Tourville, city engineer, said the city is getting ready to advertise the Uptown Improvement project for bid. City leaders have decided to proceed with an amended schedule for the project, allowing Columbia Gas to replace the main gas line through the Uptown Westerville area and change the location of area meters. The project, making aesthetic improvements to the Uptown area, originally was to start in April.

Tourville previously said a new main gas line would be installed on State Street from Park Street to College Street. From College, to Main Street to Home Street, a new rear line would be installed and service would be run to those buildings.

"We wanted to make sure we got in and did our work before Westerville went in and did their work," said Luka Papalko, external affairs specialist for Columbia Gas Ohio.

He said the improvements involve digging up hard surfaces in the area, relocating and replacing lines and upgrading services which would be in the same area as the Uptown improvements.

"A lot of this is old infrastructure," he said.

Tourville said Columbia Gas would work from June to October.

In August, the city would start work on the Uptown project that involves areas not affected by the Columbia Gas installation, he said.

"Right now we're waiting until after Memorial Day to start our work," he said. "We're definitely trying to be mindful of any events."

During November and December, the construction zone would be secured and no work would be completed to allow for holiday shopping in the area.

Starting in January 2020, the city would resume work on the Uptown Improvement project, with completion expected in September 2020, Tourville said.

He said the general project will take place from Walnut Street up to Home Street and from Park Street North. He said residents may notice a curve being removed in this area as well as improvements to sidewalks to comply with ADA standards.

Push-button-activated crosswalks will be installed where Plum Street and Winter Street intersect State Street, he said.

"Those are being upgrading for safety purposes."

Tourville said State Street will be repaved.

"A lot of the traffic and signal equipment is going to be replaced," he said of additional improvements.

In terms of general roadway repairs, Tourville said the community will see repairs and resurfacing from Broadway Avenue to Hoff Road. He said curb repairs between Walnut Street to Lee Terrace all will be done this summer, except the resurfacing, which likely will be done next fall.

Christa Dickey, Westerville's community affairs director, said the city is trying to keep the public and merchants as informed as possible.

"We're going to keep Uptown access as much as we can," she said.

Tourville said the city plans to maintain close contact with the Westerville Visitors and Convention Bureau to adjust the annual 4th Friday events around the construction.

"Some of the vendors may have to move around from month to month," Tourville said.

"We just want to make sure there are no surprises," Dickey said.

Since mid-2017, Westerville staff members have been working on a plan that would replace sidewalks and pedestrian crossings in Uptown Westerville to improve mobility, add curb extensions at crosswalks, meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards and improve aesthetics and traffic signals.

The city staff initially presented three options that ranged in cost and scope. All three posed issues for Uptown Westerville business owners, who had voiced concerns about construction affecting their businesses.

In March 2018, area business owners and the city came to a compromise that would result in no loss of parking spaces and a shorter schedule.

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