Council Passes North Court Infrastructure Project
“There will be major improvements to infrastructure underneath the street (old water systems, piping), as well as an effort to re-brick the street,” said Kent Butler, first ward rep. at city council.
Firstly, the project plans to replace an 80 year old sandstone storm drainage tunnel that lies under Cornwell Jewelers. Built in the 1930s, the tunnel is a product of the Works Progress Administration, a New Deal agency that employed millions for public works projects. Now, the tunnel is out of date and will be replaced with reinforced concrete.
“The sandstone is failing. We had a garbage truck fall through nearby there in the early 2000s in Fern alley. It’s one that we know needs replaced,” said Andy Stone, Athens City Engineer and Director of Public works.
In addition, the worn asphalt on North Court will be replaced with bricks from the old Jeff Hill in an effort to conserve resources and improve infrastructure. The bricks will complete the decade-long program called The Court Street Streetscape aimed at refining Court Street block-by-block.
“This will be last part to do, and we’ll be back to the original brick [on Court Street],” said Stone. “We’re pretty happy about The Court Street Streetscape.”
The project will also reline some of the city’s older storm sewers and touch up sidewalks on Court and surrounding streets Grosvenor, Franklin, Morris and State.
An Ohio Public Works Commission Issue 1 grant for $360,640 (74 percent) will fund the majority of the project, and the city must produce $126,960 (26 percent) from local revenues and in-kind contributions.
As for the timeframe of construction, summer 2012 is expected.
“The goal will be to do the work only during the two months that OU is out of session,” Stone said. “Our goal is to do all of our planning, get it out to bid, get bids in [from construction companies], and sign a contract on July 1.”
July 1 is the first day of the state fiscal year, and the first day Athens could enter into a contract with the grant funding. Stone anticipates the “vast majority” of the work to be done before Fall Semester 2012.
With the approval at City Council, the project moves forward and Athens awaits bids from construction firms interested in the project.