A project in the making since 2013 to make a busy section of East U.S. Route 36 not only pedestrian friendly, but also to remedy drainage issues in the area, broke ground on Monday, April 10.
The U.S. 36 East Improvements Project is a $1.3 million undertaking involving a portion of U.S. Route 36 from Berwick Drive (near Speedway) to Lippincott Lane (Walmart development). It will involve the installation of curbs and gutters, sidewalks, street lights and storm sewer infrastructure.
Signs posted by the Ohio Department of Transportation last week indicate that, beginning April 10, East U.S. Route 36 will be closed for 90 days from the U.S. Route 36/state Route 29 split to Dugan Road.
City Engineer Tyler Bumbalough said the portion of roadway involved in the project is used by over 10,000 vehicles a day, and many of those vehicles will still be allowed to enter the construction area to access local businesses.
“The road will be closed to through-traffic, however, local traffic, meaning somebody coming in from one side with a destination within the closure, will be allowed to do that,” Bumbalough said. “For example, if I’m coming from in town and wanted to go to Walmart, I can still use 36. However, if I’m coming from in town and I want to head out of town with no stops, that’s considered through-traffic and that’s not allowed.”
Drivers not visiting a destination within the construction area must find another route or can choose to follow signs directing drivers to the following designated state route detour: state Route 814 to state Route 296 to U.S. Route 68.
“As with any closure like this, people will find their own way around,” Bumbalough said.
Community Development Manager Doug Crabill said the U.S. 36 East Improvements Project has a price tag of $1,338,250.98, and nearly half of that total is being funded through a Transportation Alternatives Program grant in the amount of $611,772.34. The funds, which are being used to pay for pedestrian improvements, are federal dollars administered by ODOT.
To help cover a majority of the costs associated with the stormwater infrastructure, the city has acquired a $400,000 grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission.
The remaining costs for the project are being covered by the city ($269,628.99 in capital improvement and stormwater utility funds) and Urbana Township ($21,300.56), which is responsible for several non-annexed properties along East U.S. Route 36.
As for how construction will proceed on the project, Bumbalough said, J&J Schlaegel Inc. of Urbana will begin by completing underground work and installation of the stormwater infrastructure. Once this is complete, work will begin on the curbs and gutters. This portion of the project will stretch from Berwick Drive to Lippincott Lane.
The next step in construction will involve the installation of decorative street lights and trees on each side of the roadway. On the north side, the lights will stretch from Berwick Drive to the eastern edge of the Walmart property.
“Memorial Health (of Marysville), as part of its project, will put in two additional decorative lights to continue the look out to Dugan,” Bumbalough said.
On the south side of East U.S. Route 36, lights and trees will be installed from Berwick Drive to the rear of the TSC property (city limits).
The final stage of the U.S. 36 East Improvements Project will involve the installation of sidewalks.
“Sidewalks on the south side will stop at the western drive at the rear of TSC, while on the north side, we will tie in to the current Walmart development walk,” Bumbalough said. “Memorial Health will extend the sidewalks on the north side to Dugan.”
Any existing sidewalks along the project area – besides the Walmart development – will be torn up during construction.
“Since we are putting in curb and gutter, that changes all our elevations for where the sidewalks are now, so we basically have to rip out all the sidewalks and start all over,” Bumbalough said. “All the sidewalks will be uniform instead of a mix and match of different ages of walks and width of walks. It will look a lot better when everything is uniform.”
Bumbalough added J&J Schlaegel has been give an interim completion date of Sept. 15, and a final completion date of Oct. 31.
The interim completion date, he added, has been instituted to allow for a separate project – the ODOT Urban Resurfacing Project – to begin as soon as possible.
At a cost of $619,030 (city’s share totals $123,806), ODOT will resurface not only the stretch of roadway involved in the U.S. 36 East Improvements Project, but also a section of state Route 29 stretching from the U.S. 36/SR 29 split near Bon Air Drive to the city’s eastern corporation limits near Eastview Drive.
Reasons for improvements
According to Bumbalough, the U.S. 36 East Improvements Project “started out as a project to not only benefit pedestrians, but also benefit the stormwater conveyance system out there which is composed right now of just ditches culverts. We’ve been taking on a lot of water in that area as it’s a big drainage area, and it all flows into J&J Schlaegel’s front yard right now.”
In addition, he added, heavy rains and backups over the years led to flooding issues in low-lying areas like the apartments on Berwick Drive and the basement at Mercy Memorial Hospital.
“The flooding issues were a large concern of ours,” Bumbalough said. “We’ve done three precursor projects to get ready for this one.”
As for the installation of sidewalks and street lights, the reason is quite simple – to help pedestrians navigate easier and safer along East U.S. Route 36.
“It’s not conducive to walk on the sides of hills and that type of thing,” Bumbalough said. “By installing sidewalks, we are linking together many businesses and nonprofit areas out there, including the library, the YMCA, the bike path, Walmart and Speedway.”
In addition to sidewalks, a “mid-block crossing” featuring a safety island will be installed along with several push-button activated rapid-flashing beacons.
“If you think about it, there isn’t a pedestrian crossing point right now from Finch Street all the way to Lippincott Lane, which is almost a mile,” Bumbalough said. “There is simply no real good place for a pedestrian to cross the street at in this area.”
Bumbalough added he expects both the U.S. 36 East Improvements Project and ODOT Urban Resurfacing Project to both be wrapped up in October or November.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.