Next year is going to be big for Main Street.

City Council last month began considering legislation that, if approved, will be the first step toward a multimillion-dollar streetscape project in Olde Reynoldsburg.

Council is expected to vote March 23 on awarding a $408,065 contract to EMH&T engineers for "survey, engineering design and assistance with bidding" for East Main Street improvements between Davidson Drive and Jackson Street.

Although construction isn't expected to start until 2021, surveying and design work will be completed this summer.

Plans include "widening the sidewalks, creating pedestrian mobility, decorative streetlighting, stormwater management, the addition of street trees and on-street parking," according to the legislation considered by council.

It will incorporate rain gardens, center-island medians in portions of the road, LED fixtures and "decorative" mast-arm traffic signals at intersections with Lancaster Avenue and Jackson.

In addition to the streetscape work, the project also will replace a 90-year-old storm sewer under the street.

In a separate project, the Ohio Department of Transportation plans to repave the stretch of Main Street next year.

"This is really the heart of downtown. It's among the oldest and most historic areas in the city," said Andrew Bowsher, development director. "This will really give the infrastructure in Olde Reynoldsburg a makeover that is worthy of our downtown."

The city wants to make the area a "downtown destination" by focusing on pedestrian-oriented improvements, including wider sidewalks, limestone benches and street trees and on-street parking for businesses.

Main Street won't be widened; instead traffic lanes will narrow in Olde Reynoldsburg from 16 feet to 12 feet, expanding sidewalk space, similar to areas like Bexley and Old Worthington.

"For us it's a major priority. It's really an economic driver," Bowsher said. "We knew that we needed to build the infrastructure and add on-street parking. Businesses can have things like sidewalk sales, and we can use that space for public events."

Officials also hope narrower lanes will slow speeds and discourage cut-through traffic.

"The lanes are so wide now that people perceive there to be on-street parking. They're often going faster than they should -- it's like the Autobahn through Olde Reynoldsburg," Bowsher said. "The goal of the streetscape work is that if you're driving to Olde Reynoldsburg, it's because you're going there. We want to decrease semitruck traffic on Main Street."

The preliminary cost for the work is $4.1 million, according to a Jan. 13 letter from EMH&T to the city, including:

* $570,000 on sidewalk improvements, including clay brick pavers and more than 20 limestone benches

* $160,000 on furnishings such as decorative fencing and planter pots

* $75,000 for landscaping, including more than 50 trees

Reynoldsburg was awarded $1.5 million in grant funding from the Ohio Public Works Commission, according to a Jan. 24 letter from the commission.

Getting the grant money was vital, Bowsher said. Reynoldsburg twice was denied OPWC funding to complete work on Palmer Road, a project it finished last year.

"It was the only way we were able to get this project off the ground," he said. "We made sure that our 'ask' was in the sweet spot, and we knew that we were leveraging ODOT's money in paving Main Street. It was the perfect storm of pulling money from different points" to get the project done.

The Main Street project will be the city's priority street project in 2021, expected to get the lion's share of the $4 million Reynoldsburg spends annually on street and sewer capital-improvement projects, Bowsher said. The city also will use about $400,000 in loan funds received in 2019 from the Franklin County Infrastructure Bank, a revolving-loan fund that provides below-market-rate loans to municipalities for economic-development projects.

As part of the grant, Reynoldsburg also is eligible to receive a $502,000 interest-free loan from the OPWC, but the city doesn't anticipate using it, Bowsher said.

Increasing the walkability, landscaping, lighting and parking in Olde Reynoldsburg are among the goals identified in the city's 2018 comprehensive plan.

The city last year spent $1 million to install a public parking lot at the northwest corner of Lancaster Avenue and East Main Street.

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