COVINGTON —The Covington Council, along with Village Administrator Mike Busse, held a special meeting on Wednesday to discuss the upcoming High Street reconstruction project with members of the community.
The reconstruction project will take place on High Street from U.S. Route 36 to State Route 41 in the village. The village is receiving approximately $2.1 million in grant funding from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for the street project. The total estimated cost of the project is expected to be around $4 million.
The reconstruction project will also include the replacement of the storm water lines — which can utilize the ODOT funding — and also the replacement of the water and sanitary sewer lines — which cannot use the ODOT funding — on High Street in that project area. This part of the project will also include new service lines into the existing buildings.
Brice Schmitmeyer, president of Access Engineering, said that they currently applying for grant funding for the replacement of the water and sanitary sewer lines. He added that the village has a two-year window to secure possible grant funds for the project.
Schmitmeyer went over additional aspects of the project, which will include widening the road approximately one foot on each side of the road, complete curb and sidewalk replacements, replacing the culvert on the north end of the project, and more.
“In addition on this, we’re looking at decorative street lighting, traffic signal improvements (and) replacements, relocation of some of the existing electrical lines, trying to clean the whole area up,” Schmitmeyer said.
Schmitmeyer said that they are currently working on the stage one design plans for the project, which are expected to be ready for ODOT early to middle of next year. The final design plans will be completed in 2021. The project is expected to be bid out in January 2022, and construction is expected to take place in 2022.
Busse explained that the stage one design plans will define the limits of the project and where the village may have to go through additional right-of-way acquisitions for the project. He added that the village’s goal is to work within its existing right-of-way.
Craig Eley, project manager at Choice One Engineering, also discussed some of the traffic signal improvements and decorative lighting the village will see through this project. Choice One previously completed a traffic study for the village. At the council’s last meeting, they approved entering into a contract with Choice One to complete the street traffic signal and decorative lighting stage one design for the High Street reconstruction project. The cost of contract is $39,150. The fee schedule will be split up between 2018 and 2019.
Choice One will prepare construction plans for the traffic signal upgrades at the intersections of High and Wright streets, High and Bridge streets, and High Street and East Troy Pike, according to their proposal. They will also prepare construction plans for the decorative street lighting from Broadway Street (U.S. Route 36) to Dodds Street within the village.
“We’re looking at decorative traffic signals,” Eley said. They are looking at mast arm traffic signals, which Eley said are sturdy.
The village is looking to add traffic signals at the intersection of High Street and Troy Pike to work in conjunction with the traffic signals at the intersection of High and Bridge streets.
Choice One is also working to keep the traffic signals in place at the intersection of High and Wright streets after Eley said that the traffic signal previously did not meet ODOT’s traffic volume standards to warrant having traffic signals located there. Eley said that they are reviewing that intersection with ODOT to keep the traffic signals there, arguing that it is a pedestrian crossing.
Busse noted later that Choice One cannot count people who jaywalk across the street instead of using the crossing at that intersection as part of the pedestrian volume count for that crossing as they are not using that crossing in the first place. With the Covington school district also transporting more students on buses, there are also fewer students using that crossing at that intersection. If the village loses the traffic signals at that intersection, Busse noted that a possible fallback for that intersection could include flashing beacons for the pedestrian crossings.
There will also be decorative poles and lighting throughout the downtown. The poles are expected to have fittings for banners and flags. Busse also said that they have discussed having electric on the poles for holiday lights and possibly a sound system.
Improvements to the tunnel that runs underneath State Route 48 — located underneath the armory on the north side of the VFW and running across the street and underneath some houses over to U.S. Route 36 — is also currently part of the High Street project.
“As of right now, the tunnel under (route) 48 is part of this project,” Busse said. “We’re still having some discussions with ODOT about the logistics of that and the available funding for that.”
The village may run into right-of-way issues with the tunnel being located underneath private property.
It is still too early for the village to determine the expected street and/or lane closures that will occur on High Street when it is under construction in 2022, but Busse and Mayor Ed McCord assured the attendees that they are working on plans for parking to make sure that customers can get to every business every day during the project.
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