By Amanda Amsel
The completion of the West Broad Streetscape is expected this fall.
At a recent trustees meeting, Prairie Township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker said the project is looking like it will be complete earlier than expected.
“The original completion date for the project was October 2016, but last summer and fall there were a number of issues with utility conflicts, which delayed the completion date to 2017,” he said. “However, because of the mild winter we had work was able to continue and they now feel like they have caught up.”
The streetscape is a partnership between the Ohio Department of Transportation and the township and is part of larger $9 million project ODOT is working on. The portion of the project that effects Prairie Township will cost approximately $1.5 million and the township is responsible for paying a little over $400,000.
“The township was responsible for paying for 20 percent of the project,” said Hatmaker.
According to Hatmaker, the streetscape project would improve the West Broad Street corridor that runs in Prairie Township from I-270 past Hilliard Rome Road.
“This new streetscape will add sidewalks, landscaping, street trees, benches, street lights, road resurfacing, storm sewer, bike lanes and improvements to the bus stops,” Hatmaker said. “This will really spruce up the area, improve our community and make the area safer.”
The main goal of the project is to close unsafe access points and extend mediums to eliminate dangerous turning opportunities. However, when the township heard about a grant opportunity to have further improvements to the area, they jumped on the opportunity. The additional cost of the project will come from a grant through the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.
“Right now there are no sidewalks, instead there are dirt paths that people walk on,” Hatmaker said. “This project will make the area more pedestrian friendly and will really help the appearance.”
The township hopes the improvements will result in economic development in the area.
Hatmaker said that the curbs, street lights and trees have already been installed on the northside of the Broad Street and that they are now concentrating on the southside.
The township also has awarded about half a dozen grants to local businesses to improve their signage in anticipation of the project completing this fall.
Last year, the township started offering grants to local businesses to upgrade their signs. The township trustees approved spending up to $30,000 on this project and the Joint Economic Development Zone (JEDZ) agreed to spend an additional $30,000 toward signage improvements.
“Businesses can receive a grant to pay for half the cost of the new signs and a loan for the other half,” Hatmaker said. “The loan is interest free for five years.”
Sign grants are still available for interested businesses, according to Hatmaker.
For more information on the West Broad Streetscape, visit prairietownship.org.