STEUBENVILLE - Hamilton Simmons will have a front row seat for the construction work planned for the summer of 2016.
He walked to the Thursday night open house at the PrimeTime Senior Citizen Center from his Lovers Lane home to learn more about the two options for the Lovers Lane and Fort Steuben Mall Drive intersection that include a southbound turning lane with a traffic light or a roundabout circle at the intersection.
"I am leaning toward the turning lane because they will put in sidewalks with that option. I like that idea," said Simmons after he watched a video of both design options, reviewed proposed aerial plans and talked with Kevin Grathwol, a senior project manager with the GPD Group of Columbus.
EXPLORING OPTIONS — Kevin Grathwol, a senior project manager from the GPD Group of Columbus, left, explained the two options for the Lovers Lane and Fort Steuben Mall Drive intersection to Lawrence Fletcher, center, and Hamilton Simmons. Fletcher and Simmons were among approximately 100 people who attended the Thursday evening open house hosted by the city to learn more about the construction plans for the 2016 upgrade to Lovers Lane. — Dave Gossett
"I'll be happy as long as the city does something to improve Lovers Lane," added Simmons.
Some type of improvements appeared to be the general agreement among the approximately 100 people who attended the two-hour open house sponsored by the city.
"I came tonight because I wanted to find out what exactly is being planned and what will be done with our tax dollars, noted Veronica Wilson, another Lovers Lane resident.
"I have been on roundabouts in Washington, D.C., and in Delaware. I can adapt to a roundabout here but I am not sure if we have enough traffic on Lovers Lane for a roundabout," said Wilson.
City Engineer Michael Dolak has said the 10,000 vehicles a day from Sunset Boulevard to the Fort Steuben Mall Drive do qualify for use of a roundabout.
"A roundabout serves to slow down traffic and calm the flow of traffic. It is different but it works elsewhere," Dolak said at a City Council meeting earlier this year.
"I want to hear more about the roundabout plans and find out which option takes the most property," remarked Suzanne Dieguz-Kimmel of Sunshine Park. I am afraid there will be confusion with a roundabout because it is different," she said.
"As long as they do something I will be happy. My main concern is the width of the road. My second concern is when the road will be repaved and how the roundabout will work with the traffic on the road," said Nick Drazich of Lovers Lane.
"I think they are both good ideas. I am not sure what the best idea is for Lovers Lane. I don't really care for a roundabout because it could cause some difficulty for people not used to that concept. A turning lane with a traffic light could be easier for people," Steve Anderson of Laila Court observed.
"I like both options," Dottie Bossert of Steeple Chase said while watching the video. Florida has a lot of roundabouts so I am used to them from when I visit Florida. I also like the turning lane with the light. I would like to know which option will cost more because trees and utility poles will have to be taken out. I would like to see either one constructed. Doing something to ease the traffic will be wonderful."
Bossert said she lost a tire on a Lovers Lane pothole two years ago.
"You can't go the 25 mph speed limit. It is more like 10 or 15 mph. So whatever they do will be a major improvement.
Anthony Sheposh of Country Club Estates said he was disappointed the three-phase construction plans don't include the rebuilding of all of Lovers Lane.
"I would like to see every part of the road rebuilt and repaved and not just to the Lovers Lane and mall interesection," said Anthony Sheposh.
His wife, Shelly, agreed and said the plans "are disappointing because we will still have the potholes. We have some very nice neighborhoods at the south end of Lovers Lane but the street is bad."
The city is planning to have enhanced maintenance work done soon on Lovers Lane from Princeton Avenue to the Fort Steuben Mall Drive intersection.
Dolak has told City Council he anticipates the repaving of the busiest part of Lovers Lane will start in early May and is expected to be completed in June.
"That enhanced maintenance work will cost $136,000. That project will mean grinding the existing roadway down about 3 inches and then putting a new asphalt overlay on the road. That will mean that section of Lovers Lane will be closed at least eight hours a day We will then be doing major patching from the Fort Steuben Mall Drive to Coal Hill. We know that is a temporary fix and we are continuing to work on the three-phase project to completely rebuild Lovers Lane," explained Dolak.
Maintenance and Repair Director Bob Baird said a standard patching project is planned from Fort Steuben Mall Drive to Sinclair Avenue this summer, "and will include milling the pothole areas and repaving the road in sections."
"I think a red light at the intersection will be counter productive. But I have never been a big fan of roundabouts either. I honestly don't know which is the best option. But the roundabout is probably the best option for Lovers Lane. And I know something has to be done because I have to travel the street," commented Andy Pipo, a longtime Lovers Lane resident.
"I am looking forward to either plan. A turning lane with a traffic light is probably more practical because I don't know if a roundabout can handle the tractor-trailer traffic on Lovers Lane. The traffic can move rather quickly on Lovers Lane so we need a way of slowing the vehicles down for people turning onto Lovers Lane from the side streets," stated Alan Hall, a Pembroke Road resident.
According to Dolak, Phase II of the Lovers Lane project will see the widening of the Sunset Boulevard and Lovers Lane intersection starting in 2017.
"Phase III will see the road completely rebuilt with proper drainage from Princeton Avenue to Fort Steuben Mall Drive. We are looking at a total cost of more than $5 million with most of the cost being covered by federal and state money," Dolak said.