West Carrollton will make much-needed improvements to the Interstate 75 underpass at Alex-Bell Road.
Planned improvements include painting of the jersey barriers and the beams of the bridge, installing new LED lighting and removing the overgrowth there and replacing that with new landscaping, said Greg Gaines, director of planning and community development.
The city had received numerous complaints about the area’s appearance and safety over the years, most of them from pedestrians who use the sidewalks regularly, Gaines said.
“One of the teachers at West Carrollton High School, she sent us email and photos of trash, drug paraphernalia, clothes, a lot of it in the overgrowth,” he said. “She’s concerned about the safety of people using that as a means of access, either to the downtown or to the high school.
“There are a large number of school children that walk along that route.”
“It’s important to remember this underpass is actually identified in our Urban Design Plan as one of the gateways into our downtown, and this improvement is consistent with our (Comprehensive) Plan to elevate the quality of our built environment and image and appearance of the community,” Gaines told West Carrollton City Council during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting.
West Carrollton School District provided a letter of support for the project, Gaines told this news outlet indicating that the district is preparing to build a new 7th through 12th grade campus and many of their students use the sidewalks along Alex-Bell Road to travel between downtown and the high school campus throughout the day and evening hours.
“The letter stated ‘Any upgrade to lighting, accessibility, and safety would greatly improve access to our new schools,’ he said.
The city is attempting to secure approval of a permit with the Ohio Department of Transportation for the improvements, Gaines said. When that is done, it will put bids out for contractors to get work started as soon as they are available, he said.
Potential improvements during a planned second phase include installing new wider sidewalks on both sides of the underpass, installing brick paver accents and adding pedestrian lighting poles, landscaping and riprap, a layer of large stones that protects soil from erosion in areas of high or concentrated flows.
A chain link fence on top of the jersey barriers may be replaced with a black, powder-coated chain link fence if it fits with the budget for the project, Gaines said.
A resolution approved by city council Tuesday authorized City Manager Brad Townsend to apply for additional CDBG money for that second phases, which would occur, at the earliest, sometime in 2024.
Overall cost for both phases will depend on how much funding becomes available and how much city council opts to dedicate in the budget, Gaines said.