COVINGTON — The village of Covington, in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Transportation, held a public meeting Monday to review the planned reconstruction of High Street and to receive feedback from residents.
Brice Schmitmeyer, president of Access Engineering Solutions, and Nancy Tobe, project manager for AES, spoke briefly about the details of the project, along with a general project schedule, and opened up the floor for the public to voice any concerns.
“Part of the reason we’re here today is to gather input from local residents and business owners in the area,” Schmitmeyer said. “Obviously, it’s going to be a disruption when we go through the project, but we’re trying to minimize that as much as possible.”
Tobe said the project will include reconstruction of High Street from Dodd Street to Broadway Street, stopping just south of the Broadway Street intersection.
“The whole reason for this project is to improve this corridor,” she said. “You have pavement that’s failing and needs replaced, utilities that need replaced, and near the downtown area, the street gets a little tight, so we’re talking about widening it by a foot on each side, which I think will help quite a bit.”
Tobe added that the area would be “visually enhanced,” as well, which will include the addition of decorative lighting, benches, trash receptacles, and planters.
The project, Tobe said, technically involves the completion of two separate projects, with the replacement of the sanitary sewer and water line to take place first. The design of this first project is set to be completed in 2020, with bidding to take place late in the year, and construction set to begin in 2021.
The second project, Tobe said, will be the reconstruction of High Street. This will include new pavement, curb and gutter, sidewalk, new storm sewer, some utility pole relocation, rehabilitation of the stone arch/concrete box culvert system, a new traffic signal system at the state Route 48 intersections with state Route 41 and Bridge Street — these signals will be coordinated to function as a single traffic signal system — and an upgraded traffic signal at state Route 48 and Wright Street.
This project will be in the design phase until late 2021, with bidding in early 2022, and construction starting in May of 2022. Construction is estimated to take seven months, Tobe said.
According to Schmitmeyer, ODOT will cover around 75 percent of the street reconstruction project cost, and additional funding sources are being sought for the sanitary sewer and water line project.
The current estimated cost for the street reconstruction, including right-of-way acquisition and construction, is approximately $4.6 million, with the village’s share of these costs totalling approximately $1.64 million.
“By separating this into two projects, we are going after funding sources more aggressively to make it more affordable for the village,” Schmitmeyer said. “The first project has a different funding package to do the utilities and the majority of the second project is funded by ODOT.”
The floor was opened to public comment, though many attendees chose to stay after the formal meeting to speak one-on-one with project leaders, submit concerns privately, and to learn more about the reconstruction.
Local business owner TJ Manson, of High Street’s Above & Beyond Salon, voiced his concern about how the reconstruction will affect his business.
“We have no parking available to us besides street parking and we want to make sure that we have a designated area for parking so we can tell our clients to leave their house 20 to 30 minutes early so they can park and walk to us,” Manson said.
Manson noted the importance of keeping access to the business’s front door during construction, as the back door is up a flight of steps with potential safety concerns.
“We’re excited for the downtown to be remodeled; it’s going to be awesome,” he said. “But going to be inconvenient for a lot of people, and it could be financially devastating to a few of us downtown businesses.”
Schmitmeyer noted that a formal response to all public concerns/comments will be released at a later date, as well as a more detailed explanation of project detours, sequencing, and traffic maintenance.
“All comments will be addressed,” he said. “Not only would the village want to do that, but it’s a requirement of the ODOT project funding.”
No final decisions regarding any proposed improvements have been made at this time, and the village is actively seeking public input.
Those interested in submitting comments are asked to reference “High Street” in any emails or letters. Comments are requested no later than Dec. 18, 2019, and an overview of comments with responses/explanations will be released at a later date.
Residents may contact Tricia Bishop, environmental coordinator for ODOT, by phone at (937) 497-6721, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail at 1001 St. Marys Ave., Sidney, OH 45365.
Comments may also be sent to Michael Busse, village administrator, by phone at 473-3420, Ext. 101, by email at email@example.com, or by mail at 1 S. High St., Covington, OH 45318.
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2019 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.