Open house set for proposed road improvements
WORTHINGTON -- A public open house will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Worthington Fire Hall to get community input about construction improvements planned for McMillan Street and Ryan's Road.
WORTHINGTON -- A public open house will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Worthington Fire Hall to get community input about construction improvements planned for McMillan Street and Ryan’s Road.
Worthington City Engineer Dwayne Haffield said the improvements are part of the Street Improvements Project and Active Living Plan. Both roads have been a top priority for the city for quite a while, he added.
“On McMillan Street we see more pedestrians trying to cross to Oxford Street toward the Wal-Mart area, so we are looking at that as a high priority,” Haffield said. “That’s simply based on what we see.”
He explained that McMillian Street is going to be completely reconstructed, and sidewalks and bike paths will be added. Work on Ryan’s Road will be less invasive and will include the addition of walkable and rideable areas, as well as a full resurfacing of the road.
“This meeting is an opportunity for the public to see some of the possibilities of how that might look,” Haffield said.
Haffield said work may began first on McMillan Street, and Ryan’s Road to follow once that’s complete. Haffield said the work on McMillan could take at least three months to be completed.
“We would like to proceed with McMillan next year and it may or may not include the Ryan’s Road segment,” Haffield said. “It depends upon what the actual section is going to look like and and how it is going to impact people.”
There are a number of benefits of improving both roads, including pedestrian safety and making Worthington a more walkable city.
“We hope to have a pedestrian-friendly corridor and more people will walk,” Haffield said. “Right now it has only the appearance of a road, and it doesn't seem to offer much more than a road.”
There won’t be a formal presentation during the open house, but personnel from the city engineer’s office and Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. will be available to explain the proposed project and answer questions. Informational panels for sidewalk and bicycle path alternatives will be on display, and comment cards will be available to the public.
“We do want feedback from the public and we are assuming their support, but we do need support to do projects like this because it will impact business and utilities companies,” Haffield said.
He explained that the number of on-street parking spots are affected in some of the proposed alternatives. Also, the addition of sidewalks and bike paths will obligate utilities companies to remove pedestals located on those roads.
“How much parking is provided is a question, because there is a big parking demand in that area and not all the options include parking,” Haffield said. “Certainly not on both sides of the street.”
He added that he wants to make sure residents and business owners are aware that they are expected to remove snow from the sidewalks and take care of them.
Haffield said the city understands the impact the construction may have on businesses located in that area, but that it’s willing to work with them to make the improvements process as easy as possible.
Dalon Diamonds owner Kathy Mullaney admitted that the reconstruction of McMillan Street will have an effect on her business, but it’s something that needs to be addressed.
“Nobody wants to do it, but on the flip side they have to do it or we can't move forward,” Mullaney said. “There is a safety issue with the amount of traffic that we have.”
She said the city was very cooperative with her with a past project on McMillan Street.
“The city absolutely worked with me,” Mullaney said. “They just worked around my business hours, and they didn’t obstruct my driveway.”
However, another business owner who didn’t want to be identified said the city wasn’t very cooperative when the same project was done. The business owner added that the sales of the store went down 35 percent, which was very significant for a small business.
Both projects have an approximate cost of $1 million, which is going to be paid by the Municipal State Aid Street Program. Haffield said the city needs to see if there is a real need for the road improvements since the state funds could be allocated for other street projects.
“It’s an expense of public funds,” he said. ‘We assume it’s meeting a public need, but if there is not demonstration of the need by the public, then we wouldn't spend the extra money.”
Haffield said there will be more public meetings with business owners and, if the project receives Worthington City Council approval, he hopes work can begin sometime next year.