City proposes $16.5 million in transportation projects

An artist’s rendering of a proposed pedestrian bridge over Victory Drive.
An artist’s rendering of a proposed pedestrian bridge over Victory Drive.

The city is proposing about $16.5 million in transportation projects for fiscal 2017, Deputy City Manager Pam Hodge told Columbus Council this week.

The projects include a pedestrian bridge over Victory Drive as part of the Follow Me Trail, a rails-to-trails project currently under construction. They also include the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard alternative transportation project, a 10th Street plaza entrance to the Riverwalk and Woodruff Park area, and a new traffic signal system designed to address the traffic problems around the intersection of Beaver Run Road and Manchester Expressway.

Funding for these projects and numerous others will come from the city’s paving fund, the Other Local Option Sales Tax, the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and the Georgia Department of Transportation, Hodge said.

The bridge over Victory Drive was already budgeted as part of the Follow Me Trail project, but an additional $1.5 million will be needed, Hodge said. The original design called for a support structure in the median, but the DOT nixed that plan. The new bridge design was put out to bid and the lowest price was about $1.5 million higher.

The additional funding for the enhanced bridge will come from the city’s paving fund.

Also included in the project list is a $1.5 million plan to connect the Follow Me Trail to the Riverwalk around South Lumpkin Road. That funding will come from the DOT and TSPLOST.

Since the area around the intersection of Beaver Run Road and Manchester Expressway has been heavily developed, traffic problems have spread out in all directions. The proposed new system of traffic signal control would change lights according to the traffic flow rather than just by the time of day.

“It actually monitors the traffic at different locations and it will be able to change the signals based on actual traffic, not on a set time of day,” Hodge said. “A lot of cities have gone to this type of technology and we thought that this would be a good location to see if this kind of technology would help with traffic.”

Hodge said if it is successful there, the city might consider using it at other problem spots.

The $125,000 project would involve signals, roughly from south to north, at Milgen Road and Flat Rock Road, Flat Rock and Beaver Run Road, Beaver Run and Manchester Expressway, Beaver Run and Gateway Road, and the northern intersection of Beaver Run and Flat Rock.

The MLK Boulevard project features a narrower road with sidewalks and landscaped medians, enhanced landscaping, multi-use trails and a linear park running alongside. Historic markers will be included in the linear park, telling the story of King and others from the civil rights era. The project will transform MLK Boulevard from 10th Avenue to Buena Vista Road.

“We will be coming back to council with the design options on how we plan to proceed forward,” Hodge said. “This is just to allocate the funding to the MLK Streetscapes and Trail.”

The project will cost about $4.1 million, but $1.1 million had already been budgeted for resurfacing the road. The rest will come from TSPLOST and the paving fund.

The 10th Street Plaza concept comes from a plan designed by PATH Foundation, which has designed a series of multi-use paths for the city. It will enhance 10th Street from Front Avenue to Bay Avenue and will make the path down to Woodruff Park and the Riverwalk more pedestrian friendly, Hodge said.

It will also improve the pathways going down from street level to the Riverwalk itself.

The $1.3 million project would be funded with DOT and TSPLOST funds.

Other projects included in the overall $16.5 million plan include a study of sidewalks on Steam Mill Road, multiple resurfacing projects, continuing widening of Forrest Road and several small bridge replacements and traffic signal additions.