Groveport council weighs cost of bicycle path

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The unofficial construction bids for the proposed Groveport bicycle path have come in lower than the engineer’s estimate, but still higher than Groveport Village Council members expected.

Engineering estimates from EMH&T presented in April for the approximately 7,000 foot, 10 foot wide, asphalt bicycle path came in at $429,000. A previous rough estimate to build the bike path was $250,000.

Village Administrator Jon Crusey suggested council could consider breaking the project into two phases and do one phase this year and the second phase possibly in 2009. Phase one would involve building the path from Corbett Road to Elmont Place at the estimated cost of $220,000. Phase two would take the path from Elmont Place to Three Creeks Park at a cost of $219,000.

Bids were solicited for doing the entire project or in phases. Four companies made bids with Strawser Paving making the lowest bid for the entire project at $359,224 and for the phase two section at $175,934. Chemcote had the lowest bid for the phase one section at $176,121. The construction bids do not include the costs of design and inspection that would be figured in later.

Engineer’s notes

EMH&T engineer Steve Farst said soil conditions, American Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, and the fact the path has to cross seven ditches and streams adds to the cost of the project.

Farst also said council could consider shrinking the width of the path from 10 to 8 feet, which would reduce the cost. In comparison, he said the path in Three Creeks Park is 12 feet wide and the path in Groveport Park is 10 feet wide.

Council viewpoints

"There’s a lot of discussion that needs to take place before we pull this together," said Councilman Jim Staebler, stating he doesn’t want to abandon the project, but wants to re-examine it. "It’s a lot of money we haven’t budgeted for. Doing the project in phases might be the best option. We do have a significant investment in energies and finances in this project."

Staebler said, if the path is built in stages, he favored doing the Corbett Road to Elmont Place section first. He said that would be in the best interests of safety as it would pull the most pedestrians and cyclists off the narrow Old Hamilton Road.

Councilman Shawn Cleary was wary of the financial burden of the project.

"It’s a tremendous amount of money. I’m not in favor of doing it all at once at this cost," said Cleary. "I’m always cautious about the day when the village won’t have the big income tax revenues we’re now getting. What’s wrong with putting our nickels away?"

Cleary said he "could live with doing the path in two phases. It’s a project everyone could benefit from if we get it worked out."

Like Staebler, Cleary prefers doing the Corbett Road to Elmont Place section first.

Though the cost is more than he expected, Councilman Ed Rarey, who originally spearheaded the project, wants to see the village complete the project all at once and not in phases.

"I won’t support doing it in fragmented parts. We’ve had other projects in the village that we didn’t follow through on, such as the sidewalks," said Rarey. "If we do it (the bike path) we should do a complete job because it will sew the different areas of our community together as well as connect us to the Metro Parks bicycle path system."

Rarey maintains the cost of the project could be reduced if the village uses its public works department to do some of the work. He noted the public works department has the capability to do asphalt work because it paved the village’s alleys in the past.

Rarey noted some of the village’s record income tax revenues (which he said will be further enhanced as the Intermodal railway system picks up steam at Rickenbacker) received this year could be used for the bike path project.

Safety issues were also a concern for Rarey who feels cyclists and pedestrians are at risk traveling on the narrow Old Hamilton Road to and from the village.

"What’s the cost of a life?" asked Rarey. "We’re gambling every day that someone is going to get hurt or killed on Old Hamilton Road."

Councilwoman Donna Drury would also like to see the bike path completed all at once and not in phases.

"Completing the path as whole is more beneficial to the entire community," said Drury. "It links the neighborhoods with the town’s historic core as well as with the rec center, aquatic center, Three Creeks, the soccer fields, and the businesses in town. It also makes our festivals more accessible to everyone. It also promotes a green lifestyle and physical fitness."

Drury also noted the village’s growing income tax revenues and said, "We can research our budget and find a way to make this work."

She agreed with Rarey that the village could explore using its public works department to do some of the work to reduce costs.

Councilman Ed Dildine also feels the project should be done as a whole and not in pieces.

"If we’re going to do it, do the whole thing," said Dildine. "It doesn’t serve any purpose to do it half and half."

Dildine noted the village already has budgeted a large portion of the money needed for the project and added that the bids came in lower than the engineer’s estimate.

"We can work through the surprises and move on," observed Dildine.

Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert said she favors doing the project in two phases, "but if we can find a way to afford to do the whole thing this year I’d be in favor of building it all at once because I don’t see the costs going down in the coming years."

Hilbert didn’t think using public works to work on the project would reduce its cost, plus she felt that it would not be beneficial to pull the public works employees off of their other duties around town.

"Public Works is capable of doing the work, but I think other things that need attention in the village would suffer if we pulled them away to do so," said Hilbert.

She added that she could see public works doing some of the smaller, finishing work on the project such as benches as well as railings for skaters.

Next steps

Council will discuss the bicycle path issue further at future meetings. Officials are optimistic that construction of the  path could begin in this summer. The project would require a 45 day construction window.

About the proposed bike path

Groveport purchased 2.85 acres of land from Dan Foor at a cost of $99,750 to be used for the proposed bicycle path route to connect the village to Three Creeks Park.

The acreage is a 30 foot wide strip of land that extends north from Front Street at Corbett Road to the Elmont Place subdivision and follows the  right of way of the former Rarey Road, which once ran from Front Street to Blacklick Creek before being abandoned by Franklin County in 1929.

Once the proposed bicycle path reaches Elmont Place it would cut through an open space in the subdivision to reach Groveport’s Cruiser Park (the soccer park). From there the bicycle path would proceed through Cruiser Park and then cross both old and new Bixby Roads to reach Three Creeks Park.

The path would accommodate bicyclists, walkers, and joggers.

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