MARIETTA - Area residents will soon have another chance to learn about the proposed $3.26 million project to improve traffic and pedestrian safety at the Pike, Greene and Seventh street intersection in Marietta, according to an announcement during Thursday's meeting of city council's streets and transportation committee.
"We're apparently not fully prepared to conduct a meeting on the intersection tonight," said Councilman Denver Abicht, D-at large, who chairs the streets committee.
The committee was originally scheduled to provide city engineer Joe Tucker with a final answer on whether he should continue to plan for the intersection upgrade. Elements of the plan have been questioned by the public, including the proposed elimination of a left turn onto Greene Street for southbound traffic on Seventh Street.
Local drivers have said not being able to make that left turn would require traveling a much longer route to access neighborhoods along Greene Street in the Norwood area.
Tucker told the committee members the engineering department, working with W.E. Stilson Consulting Group, had initially submitted a plan for the intersection that would have allowed the left turn from Seventh onto Greene street.
"But the Ohio Department of Transportation's central office (in Columbus) would not grant the required design exception," he said. ODOT based that decision on a technical concern related to the sight distance necessary to make the left turn, he said.
After talking with council members Tucker said he believes a public meeting should be scheduled to answer questions citizens may have about the project. That session is tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 12 at Washington State Community College, but Tucker said he would have to confirm that date with college officials first.
"We want to go over the pros, cons, and benefits of the proposed plan as well as give the public a chance to provide some input," he said.
In other business Thursday, Eric Lambert, project manager with the city engineering department, requested advance funding for the fifth phase of the River Trail project.
He said that phase would extend the trail from the terminus of the upcoming third phase of the hiking and biking trail project at Jefferson Street under the I-77 bridge and across Duck Creek to property near the Pioneer Golf Center and Comfort Inn on Pike Street.
Lambert said $30,291 would be needed to complete layout plans and plans for right of way acquisition so the city could get in line by Feb. 1 and qualify for ODOT funding for the project.
Tucker added that he's working with the Wood, Washington, Wirt Interstate Planning Commission in hopes of obtaining $250,000 in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program funding for the fifth phase of the River Trail project.
He said obtaining those monies would put the city in a better position to garner alternative transportation funding through ODOT as the state agency looks more favorably on municipalities that can show more than one funding source.
The current terminus of the second phase of the city's River Trail is near the Ohio River at the intersection of Fourth and Hart streets. The third phase, slated for construction next spring, will extend the trail along the Ohio River to Jefferson Street in the city's south end.
A fourth phase would have included a connector between the River Trail at the west end of Butler Street to the west side of the Muskingum River in the Harmar District, via the Harmar Railroad Bridge.
That fourth phase has been tabled by ODOT for the time being until the fifth phase across Duck Creek can be completed.