It's been in the planning stages for years, and it'll take another year to finish, but work finally is underway to add a turn lane to East William Street in Delaware.

Construction began last week to widen the street and add a new center left-turn lane from Lake Street to Foley Street.

The pedestrian bridge at Lake Street also will be replaced.

A city press release said the turn lane will reduce congestion and increase safety for the 25,000 vehicles that travel the route daily.

"Accidents and delays occur on East William Street because of stopped vehicles waiting to make left turns. Widening the street to add a center lane will separate turning vehicles from the traffic stream and improve safety," the press release said.

Two-way traffic will be maintained throughout the project with intermittent closures for material deliveries and equipment crossings, according to the release.

Contractor Double Z Construction spent the first week relocating water lines. Contractors also were at work moving a gas line, according to the city.

Jim Balch said he's owned his home at 372 E. William St. for more than 40 years.

As traffic passed orange construction barrels lining the curb June 4, he pointed to the spot where he expects the end of his driveway will be once the street is widened.

He also pointed to a large tree in his yard, bearing a freshly painted "X." The tree will come down, he said he was told, because it's where the sidewalk will be relocated.

Balch said he received plenty of notice about the project from the city. While the property owners paid to have their sidewalks installed, he said, the city will install the replacement paths.

He also said he received more than a month's notice from Columbia Gas about its lines being relocated.

The city said Delaware City Schools staff was advised about the project's timeline to ensure safe routes to schools during construction. Conger Elementary School is located just north of William Street in the project area.

"Our administrative team, along with the leadership of Conger Elementary School, have been in contact with the city of Delaware and the contractor working on the East William Street project," said district spokeswoman Jennifer Ruhe.

"The district is reviewing current bus routes and will make adjustments to reroute buses when possible to accommodate the project timelines," she said.

"We will continue to work with the contractor to ensure safe passages to school for our students throughout the year. We continue to ask for patience and understanding as buses may be delayed during the project."

The project is slated to wrap up in summer 2020.

The city's plans for the east side also include widening the road beneath the railroad underpass at the Point intersection of William and Central Avenue from two to four lanes.

That won't happen quickly, however.

City documents say construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2022, preceded by utility relocation in spring 2021 and right-of-way acquisition in winter 2020.

The city's Access Delaware website, delawareohio.net/access-delaware, provides details on all city street and transportation projects.

It says the East William Street project will cost $6.5 million, with the city's share at $1.1 million.

The site notes the project stemmed from a study about a possible southeast-side bypass from U.S. Route 23 to U.S. Route 36-state Route 37, for which the city received federal earmark funding in 2005.

The Great Recession of the late 2000s and other factors saw that idea scrapped, and in 2012 the city was allowed to reallocate the remainder of the $4 million earmark toward the East William widening.

The project's study and design phase lasted from 2014-18. The city also has an Access Delaware Facebook page.

That page announced a contractor will begin microsurfacing repairs to U.S. Route 23 between U.S. Route 42 and Pennsylvania Avenue starting the evening of June 10.

The work will last three days, weather permitting, and will be performed between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., when traffic will be maintained with a single lane in each direction.

The page also says the city began its first section of base repairs to Central Avenue on May 24. The work is necessary in anticipation of the Ohio Department of Transportation's planned resurfacing of Central Avenue from Troy Road to the Point intersection in 2020.

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews