Three large road projects in Columbus in three different stages

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 13, 2013 

ROBIN TRIMARCHI Construction flagmen direct traffic and alternate driving lanes traveling east and west on Whittlesey Road under the Interstate 185 overpass Wednesday. 09.11.13


Three long-awaited Columbus road widening projects are currently in three distinctly different stages. One possibly at is about a third of the way complete, another on the verge of getting started while yet another is still in the conceptual stage.

After years of planning and debate, Columbus Council on Tuesday signed off on spending almost $5 million on widening Moon Road from Wilbur Drive to Whittlesey Boulevard.

The funds had been budgeted in the fiscal 2014 budget, but council approval was required to move the project forward.

The two-lane stretch of road will be widened to three lanes with turning lanes at street intersections. The price tag includes all drainage work, curbing and gutters, traffic signals and pavement markings, according to city documents.

City Planning Director Rick Jones said people can expect to see work start within about 60 days, but added that the first step in such a project is to move the utilities along the road, which is a time-consuming project, so it will be longer before people see actual roadwork.

Robinson Paving Co. of Columbus beat out the other contractors with a bid of $4.93 million.

Meanwhile, a few miles to the north, plans to widen Williams Road between Whitesville Road and Veterans Parkway are being prepared. City leaders must first decide between two approaches for addressing the sometimes clogged east-west artery.

One proposal would maintain two lanes but provide a landscaped median, turn lanes and roundabouts at the intersections with Builders Way, Fortson Road and the Interstate 185 northbound ramps.

The other would forego the median and add a third lane, with the same three roundabouts included.

Both plans include a five-foot sidewalk on the south side of Williams and an eight-foot multi-use path on the north side for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The two-lane approach would cost the city an estimated $5.7 million while the three-lane would cost about $7.6 million.

“The reason for the price difference is because the three-lane includes an asphalt turn lane, and asphalt prices have gone back,” Jones explained. “It’s not cheap anymore.”

Whichever approach the city takes, motorists shouldn’t expect to see the Williams Road project get under way anytime soon, Jones said. Bidding out the project is still 12-18 months away and the funding source has not been finalized, he said.

Back down Whitesville Road and at the other end of Whittlesey from Moon Road, the project to widen Whittlesey between Whitesville and Veterans Parkway is making progress.

The $8.95 million project was begun a little over a year ago after years of right of way acquisition problems and design changes. It is being financed with $7.17 million in federal funds and $1.78 million in state funds.

A year into that 2.5- to 3-year project, some utilities and some earth have been moved and the footprint of the expanded roadway is taking shape.

It will include five-foot sidewalks on both sides of the street and a 20-foot raised median that will include some left-turn lanes to accommodate traffic flow.

The project is on schedule and proceeding as planned, according to the state Department of Transportation, which is managing the project.

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