SALEM - Mayor John Berlin said he received notification Tuesday that a project to extend a sidewalk along the north side of State Street from the Salem Plaza to Cunningham Road "can move forward as originally planned."
The notification came from Greg Gurney, Ohio Department of Transportation District 11 LPA Manager, who sent copies of an email to the mayor, city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst and Howells & Baird engineer Jon Vollnogle.
According to the email, District 11 determined the project could go foward based on newly released proposed accessibility guidelines for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way. Berlin explained the project had been held up for years because it was being linked to another project located in downtown Salem. He said ODOT wanted to have intersections downtown all updated, but now they'll be able to replace ramps and sidewalk there when they're needed instead of all at once.
The email said the new guidelines remove the connection of the new sidewalk project to the prior work done downtown. Berlin had the sidewalk project on his priority list for projects this year. "I don't want to see people walking in the street," he said.
The preliminary drawings for the project were done several years ago and turned in. He said ODOT will need to review the plans and complete an environmental impact study. He said the funding is already in place and will come during ODOT's fiscal year 2014, which begins in July 2013. The city will have to contribute 20 percent of the funding for the project originally estimated at $250,000, Berlin said.
He also said ODOT provided the city with a list of possible paving projects for fiscal year 2014 which could include sections of state Routes 14, 344 and 9 within the city limits. The city would pay 20 percent of the cost and the state would cover the rest.
Berlin said money saved there could be used on other city streets. He said it's an opportune time to get those state routes in the city done, considering the expected increase in truck traffic related to the shale industry.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org