The Ohio Public Works Commission recently awarded nearly $30 million to upgrade 20 roadways and utilities throughout Franklin County in 2021.

Each year, with the assistance of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, the OPWC's Public Works Integrating Committee provides between $25 million and $30 million in grants to District 3 governments to improve roadways and basic infrastructure. District 3 covers all of Franklin County.

On March 19, the OPWC made its latest awards through its State Capital Improvements Program and Local Transportation Improvements Program for projects expected to take place in 2021.

"This is a source of funding the state makes available to local governments for maintaining their local infrastructure," said Nathaniel Vogt, infrastructure and development manager for MORPC. "It's one of the few sources available to local governments outside of their own residents to support local infrastructure."

Although the projects are funded by the state and the grants are provided by the OPWC, MORPC helps decide where the funding goes.

Vogt said MORPC annually solicits and collects grant applications and then ranks them for the OPWC.

There were 31 applicants this year, Vogt said.

All applicants must certify that they have the balance of funds available -- from their own resources or other funding sources committed to the project, Vogt said.

"OPWC will not execute a project agreement with the applicant if the applicant cannot demonstrate they have the necessary funds," he said.

Eligible projects include improvements to roads, bridges, culverts, water-supply systems, wastewater systems, stormwater-collection systems and solid-waste-disposal facilities. County, city, village, township and other infrastructure districts in Franklin County were eligible to apply.

In all, the OPWC distributed $29,517,113 to 20 projects. Nine of the projects were awarded at least $1 million. Grandview Heights was awarded the most. The Yard Street, Bobcat Avenue and Swan Street road and utility extension project was awarded $6.18 million. The total cost of the work is projected at $11.46 million.

Reynoldsburg was awarded $2 million for a variety of improvements to East Main Street, from Lancaster Avenue to Jackson Street, with the Ohio Department of Transportation's plans to resurface the roadway through that agency's Urban Paving Program. The total cost is projected at $3,038,974.

"We're always excited to receive funding when we get grants or low-interest loans through the Ohio Public Works Commission grant program," said William Dorman, Reynoldsburg's public-service and building director. "We want to get this work done in coordination with that (ODOT Urban Paving Program) project so we only have work on the road once."

Dorman said the improvements the city and OPWC will fund to East Main Street will include the installation of brick sidewalks throughout the corridor, a larger pedestrian pathway, a median to calm traffic and assist pedestrian crossing, new signs and improvements to the storm-sewer infrastructure.

"We're looking at a Complete Streets project that will enhance the area for bicycling, if possible," Dorman said. "But more than that, we think these improvements will do a long way in encouraging people to continue to revitalize that area."

Dorman said work on the project is expected to start in spring 2021 and take four to six months to complete.

Hilliard's award of $1 million will allow the Scioto Darby Road-Walcutt Road intersection improvements to go forward in "early 2021," said Letty Schamp, Hilliard deputy city engineer. The cost of the project is $3.41 million.

"The city of Hilliard is thrilled to receive an OPWC grant in the amount of $1 million to help fund the Scioto Darby Road/Walcutt Road Improvement project," Schamp said. "Presently, this intersection experiences some of the worst peak hour congestion in the city, and the area lacks pedestrian or bicycle facilities.

"Our residents have been asking for both intersection improvements and pedestrian connections for years, so we are excited to partner with the Ohio Public Works Commission to deliver this project to our community."

Schamp said the work would include the installation of a single-lane roundabout, street resurfacing, streetlights and installation of a shared-use path to connect Hilliard neighborhoods to commercial retail uses.

"The project is needed to reduce heavy vehicle queueing during peak periods and to add vital pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure in the city of Hilliard," she said. "The project will improve safety in the area by slowing vehicle speeds, improving lighting and providing a separated path for pedestrians and bicyclists.

"The recent dramatic change to the economic outlook will undoubtedly result in some shuffling and reprioritizing of capital projects in the city of Hilliard. This additional funding will keep the project on track."

Franklin County engineer Cornell R. Robertson, who is chairman of the OPWC District 3 Integrating Committee, called the grants "an integral component in financing road and bridge projects throughout Franklin County."

"With this year's awards, 20 important infrastructure improvements administered by 14 local agencies will receive grants and loans necessary to construct these projects in the coming years," he said.

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate

Project list

The projects that were awarded funds are:

* Bexley, South Drexel and Grandon avenue comprehensive improvements, $5,158,807 (total project cost), $4,895,707 (awarded)

* Canal Winchester, Gender Road improvements phase 5, $1,199,960 (total project cost) $1 million (awarded)

* Columbus, citywide ADA curb ramps, $1,306,113 (total project cost), $999,643 (awarded)

* Columbus, Hudson Street reconstruction -- I-71 to Cleveland Avenue, $19,434,978 (total project cost), $2 million (awarded)

* Columbus, James Road at Livingston Avenue intersection improvements, $2,610,257 (total project cost), $261,025 (awarded)

* Columbus, Neil Avenue traffic-signal installation, $3,058,038 (total project cost), $1 million (awarded)

* Columbus, school-zone flashing beacons, citywide upgrades, $733,892 (total project cost), $477,651 (awarded)

* Franklin County engineer, Agler Road bridge over Alum Creek, $5,517,868 (total project cost), $931,708 (awarded)

* Franklin County engineer, Saltzgaber Road, Swisher Road and Toy Road improvements, $2,350,397 (total project cost), $702,602 (awarded)

* Grandview Heights, Yard Street, Bobcat Avenue and Swan Street road/utility extensions, $11,464,249 (total project cost), $6,179,230 (awarded)

* Grove City, Home Road improvements, $2,183,456 (total project cost), $390,960 (awarded)

* Groveport, South Hamilton Road/Higgins Boulevard/Directors Boulevard intersection improvements phase 2, $861,000 (total project cost), $472,689 (awarded)

* Groveport, West Bixby Road reconstruction phase 2, $1,851,124 (total project cost), $1,851,124 (awarded)

* Hilliard, Scioto Darby Road-Walcutt Road intersection improvements, $3,410,000 (total project cost), $1 million (awarded)

* Jackson Township, Hiner Road resurfacing, $340,700 (total project cost), $200,700 (awarded)

* Madison Township, Chipman Drive and Rager Road improvements, $458,574 (total project cost), $364,574 (awarded)

* Minerva Park, Sanitary-sewer collection-system improvements phase 3, $300,300 (total project cost), $300,300 (awarded)

* New Albany, Market Street extension, $7,505,000 (total project cost), $532,168 (awarded)

* Reynoldsburg, East Main Street roadway improvements, $3,083,974 (total project cost), $1,999,999 (awarded)

* Whitehall, Poth Road improvements, $3,997,033 (total project cost), $3,957,033 (awarded)