Pickerington's Refugee Road widening project nears completion

NATE ELLIS
nellis@thisweeknews.com
Motorists navigate the new roundabout at Refugee Road and Fuller's Way on Aug. 14 in Pickerington. It is the first roundabout in the city and part of a $15 million upgrade project for Refugee Road.

It took longer than initially expected, but Pickerington officials said the nearly two-year project to widen Refugee Road is coming to a smooth finish.

In October 2018, Pickerington launched a $15 million project to widen Refugee between intersections with state Route 256 and Fuller's Way.

The project originally was expected to be completed by December 2019, but rainy weather at the outset of the work pushed the anticipated end date to September 2020.

In early August, City Manager Greg Butcher said the most expensive roadway project in the city's history was all but done and would wrap up Friday, Aug. 21.

"As is typical, there will likely be some punch-list items to be completed," Butcher said. "However, visually, it will appear complete.

"Initially, inclement weather and conflicts with underground utilities delayed the project. The project has run smoothly for the past year and will be completed ahead of the revised construction schedule."

Thanks to grants from the Federal Highway Administration, the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, the Ohio Public Works Commission and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, Pickerington's share for the project's construction as of Aug. 12 was $1.6 million, Butcher said.

He said overall costs hadn't been finalized, but the city's total share for the project originally wasn't expected to exceed $2.5 million.

The Refugee project included the widening of the roadway to four lanes from Route 256 to the intersection with Fuller's Way.

Other upgrades included:

* An additional center turn lane/median from the Refugee-Fuller's Way intersection to the west corporation limit near Wheatfield Drive

* Curb and gutter installation to improve drainage

* Pickerington's "first modern roundabout" at Refugee and Fuller's Way

* A new bike path on the north side of Refugee Road to provide access from Route 256 to the Blacklick Creek Greenway Trail

* A new sidewalk on the south side of Refugee Road

* Resurfacing Refugee Road, as well as median installations throughout the corridor

According to city officials, the widened portion of Refugee sees an average of more than 16,000 vehicles daily.

Butcher said the project would yield "improved vehicle capacity throughout the limits of the projects with four lanes instead of two."

"There (also) will be a multiuse path on the north side of Refugee Road and a sidewalk on the south side," he said.

Mayor Lee Gray thanked Pickerington residents for their patience during the roadway construction. He said the upgrades would benefit the community and region for years to come.

"These improvements will have a lasting impact on our community through improved traffic flow and potential economic development," Gray said.

"It has been an exceptionally frustrating experience for those of us that use this road and also for the people involved in the project.

"I think I can speak for everyone that it will be a relief to once again travel through this area without construction."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate