South Main Columbus Road intersection

With the decision to buy a sliver of land in front of the CA&C Depot, Mount Vernon City Council cleared the way for improvements to the South Main Street/Columbus Road intersection. Construction is slated for September 2021.

MOUNT VERNON — By approving the acquisition of a sliver of land in front of the CA&C depot, city council set in motion improvements to the South Main Street/Columbus Road intersection.

The land belongs to the county, but a city traffic control cabinet sits on it. As part of a $264,000 Ohio Department of Transportation grant, ODOT requires the city to acquire the parcel.

The city will not pay anything for the parcel as it is a transfer between government entities.

The city has previously looked at improving the intersection in what City Engineer Brian Ball called a “bigger effort,” but the funding was not there. The current improvements will be smaller in scope and will not change the footprint of the road.

“This will be a Local Public Agency project through ODOT, so the city will be running this project during the construction and design phases,” Ball said. “The ODOT funding is about $264,000, and the city share is about $45,000 of the construction. We are scheduled for late September 2021 for construction.”

Final plans, which will go to ODOT in the first two weeks in December, include moving the traffic signal on the south end of the viaduct farther south. Moving it reduces the size of the intersection and the wait time between signal changes.

“There used to be an exit from the CA&C depot onto South Main Street south of the bridge. That's why the traffic signal sits there,” Ball explained.

Plans also call for adding an exit signal between Whit's Custard/Creno's and NAPA, allowing for greater ease when exiting those lots.

“This will have a sensor. If there is not a car or truck at the exit, the signal will not turn green and will skip this phase,” Ball said.

A dedicated southbound left-hand turn lane will help alleviate traffic backup for vehicles entering those businesses. This, too, will have a sensor; if no vehicle is in the turn lane, this phase will be skipped.

A crosswalk with push-button activation across Columbus Road will enable pedestrians and cyclists to cross from the depot to the Speedway gas station.

“The at-grade crossing for the bike trail will still have push buttons, too,” Ball said.

South Main Columbus Road schematic

This design schematic shows the improvements planned for the South Main Street/Columbus Road intersection. The purple dots mark the four improvements: crosswalk added across Columbus Road, sensored exit signal for vehicles leaving Whit's/Creno's and NAPA, a sensored left-hand turn lane southbound into Whit's/Creno's and NAPA, and the traffic signal south of the viaduct moving farther south. 

In addition to approving the land acquisition, council took other action during its Monday night session:

  • Approved the transfer of funds and the purchase of a new backhoe for the water/wastewater department for just under $98,000, well under the list price of $136,000. The city just sold its 28-year-old backhoe for $10,000.
  • Adopted an ordinance amending the city's demolition code
  • Authorized the settlement of a union grievance filed by the Dan Emmett Chapter of/ and The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, Local 11 American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, AFL, CIO in the amount of $366 to each of the 54 members actively employed by the city as of Nov. 23. The settlement also provides up to 80 hours of COVID-19 sick leave with pay provided the employee is ordered by the safety-service director to quarantine/isolate due to known or likely exposure to COVID-19 or the employee received a positive viral test and has been ordered to quarantine/isolate by a healthcare provider.
  • Gave second readings to legislation authorizing the city to bid and contract for the Sandusky Street north sidewalk project and the Oak Street/Catherine Street improvement project
  • Gave a first reading to legislation creating a second assistant director of utilities position and increasing the city's wastewater rates
  • Gave a first reading to legislation reappointing Jim Meyer to the Metro Housing Authority Board and Austin Swallow to the Mount Vernon Planning Commission
  • Read a proclamation in support of the annual Food For The Hungry drive

CDBG Grants

The city has received $590,000 through two Community Development Block Grants. One grant is for $120,000 to be used for a sidewalk project on the east side of North Sandusky Street from Franklin Street to Pleasant Street. Design is complete and the project is ready to bid in January. Ball is asking council for $14,000 in contingency money in the 2021 budget.

Ball calls the other grant a “great success story.” The $470,000 received from a Critical Infrastructure grant will go toward rebuilding two blocks of South Catherine Street between Gambier and Vine streets and Oak Street between Potwin and George streets. Work includes brick replacement, reconditioning sidewalks, and replacing water and wastewater lines.

Ball will bid the project in December to get more favorable prices. Work will begin in April or May of 2021. In addition to the $470,000 grant, $423,000 will come from the roads and bridges fund, $300,000 from the water fund, and $457,000 from the wastewater fund.

Financial Update

Auditor Terry Scott said that 12 small businesses received the $100,000 in CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act money the city set aside to help businesses hit by COVID-19.

“It was a great success in helping these businesses stay open and retain employment,” he said. “That was the goal of what we were trying to accomplish.”

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