No grant for next leg of River Trail

The next phase of Marietta’s River Trail project, extending the pedestrian and bicycle pathway across Duck Creek to Cogswell Lane at the Walmart complex, will apparently be delayed by at least a year because the project was not selected for grant funding in 2014.

“We just received a letter on Aug. 2 from ODOT saying that the next phase was not chosen for funding,” city engineer Joe Tucker told city council’s finance and streets and transportation committee members Monday.

He said the city had filed a massive, detailed application for an Alternative Transportation Grant worth $871,166 from the Ohio Department of Transportation, but the funding won’t be awarded in the next grant cycle.

The total estimated construction cost of the project’s next phase is $1.4 million which would include the building of a bridge across Duck Creek and extension of the trail by 0.83 miles beyond the terminus of the third phase, currently being completed to the intersection of Eighth and Jefferson streets.

“We were counting on that grant funding, and without it I don’t know how the project can move forward on the current schedule,” Tucker said. “This will likely throw everything off, so we’re potentially looking at another year before the next phase can be done.”

The most recent trail construction schedule included a June 2014 bid opening with work slated to begin in July. If the grant funding can be secured next year, the project could possibly continue in 2015.

“It would be a shame to be this far along and have to delay the project,” said Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, who chairs the finance committee.

Council president Walt Brothers ventured the denial of grant funding was due to government cuts.

“There are cuts coming from both the federal and state levels,” he said.

City law director Paul Bertram III agreed, noting federal and state support has dropped in both 2012 and 2013, and measures included in Ohio’s House Bill 5 will result in further cuts to local government funding.

“We were poised to go immediately into the next phase of the River Trail,” Tucker said. “Now I’m recommending that the next phase be tabled until we can see where we stand with funding.”

In other business Monday, Tucker said bids on the project to improve the Pike, Jefferson and Acme streets intersection came in above ODOT’s original $1.4 million estimate. He said the low bid on the project was $1.81 million by Shelly & Sands.

Normally the city would have to pick up 100 percent of the difference between the estimate and the actual contract cost, but Tucker said ODOT District 10 planning and engineering administrator Debra Fought had worked out a scenario that would provide

additional ODOT safety funds and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program fund monies through the Wood-Wirt-Washington Counties Interstate Planning Commission.

In the end, and factoring in additional monies for potential change orders, the total project funding will be $1.963 million, with a total local match of $150,020, or 7.64 percent, required from the city.

That city match includes a couple of added alternatives for high-tech radar stop bar detection systems at the Pike, Jefferson and Acme intersection and the Acme and Kroger plaza entrance intersection worth $16,000.

Tucker said the Wavetronix Radar Stop Bar Detection system uses radar waves to detect vehicles entering the intersection and can adjust signal light timing based on vehicle speed and distance.