Council hears proposals for Lovers Lane project

STEUBENVILLE – City Council and administration officials heard proposals on easing traffic congestion on Lovers Lane from two consulting firms Tuesday evening that included construction of a roundabout or a third turning lane at the Lovers Lane and Fort Steuben Drive intersection.

Actual work on the project is not scheduled to start until 2015 but the W.E. Stilson Consulting Group of Columbus and W.E. Quicksall & Associates Inc. of New Philadelphia spent two and a half hours providing city officials with ideas for Phase 1 of the Lovers Lane project.

“This project has been discussed since at least 1987. We advertised for design consulting services and have narrowed the list to these two firms. This will be a two-year design project with construction tentatively scheduled to start in July 2015,” explained City Engineer Michael Dolak.

“We are considering different alternatives that include doing nothing at all. But we are all in agreement something needs to be done at that intersection. The next alternative is a three-leg roundabout that would provide less starting and stopping in that area, and the final alternative is a third turning lane along with widening Lovers Lane. A roundabout serves to calm traffic by lowering the speed and to keep traffic moving,” continued Dolak.

Dolak said the intersection project would cover approximately 700 feet of pavement at the intersection.

“We have between 10,000 to 12,000 cars travel from Sunset Boulevard to the intersection every day. We are also considering construction of a sidewalk along Lovers Lane that would channel foot traffic to the Fort Steuben Mall area. This entire project will take two to three years so we will have to have patience,” said Dolak.

“This is a quality- based selection process. We will choose the consulting firm and will then negotiate a price for the services,” Dolak added.

According to Kevin J. Grathwol, transportation department manager for the W. E. Stilson Consulting Group, “the beauty of a roundabout is that it will keep traffic flowing, has less maintenance and less electric costs.

“We have learned from a study that 55 percent of the southbound traffic on Lovers Lane is going to the mall. That traffic turns left from Lovers Lane onto Fort Steuben Drive. A second alternative adds a left turn lane but I don’t think this plan works as well as the roundabout,” Grathwol told the council members.

“Working toward the east side of Lovers Lane could be done with little impact on the local residents,” Grathwol noted.

Zack Deems, vice president of W.E. Quicksall & Associates Inc., said the city would have to “sell the idea of a roundabout to area residents. Roundabouts usually meet opposition, but after it is completed a roundabout is accepted by most residents.”

“Any job of this type requires good communications with the area residents as well as everyone involved in the project,” stated David R. Quicksall, chairman of the New Philadelphia based firm.

Dolak said a city administration committee will determine which consulting company will receive the bid and then will negotiate a fee for the work.

He also said the city is seeking federal funds to pay for the major part of the project.

In other business during the service committee meeting, council members approved a recommendation from City Manager Cathy Davison to renew a 40-year lease with American Electric Power Co. for the West End fire station property.

“The land belongs to the power company but the fire station is ours. The lease is for $1 a year,” said Davison.

During a brief sunshine meeting, 3rd Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf proposed legislation to authorize Davison to advertise for bids for the John Scott Highway and Mall Drive improvement projects as well as the University Boulevard and Brady Avenue improvement projects scheduled to begin later this year and be completed next year

Metcalf also introduced an ordinance to advertise for the Steubenville Marina deck project.

The Ohio Department of Transportation agreed to save the pier closest to the Ohio side of the river when the Fort Steuben Bridge was demolished.

Dolak said the state agreed to provide $250,000 in funding the project to trim the pier and construct a pedestrian bridge to an observation deck on the pier.

And, Metcalf introduced a resolution recognizing Catholic Schools Week, set to start Sunday.

Second Ward Councilman Rick Perkins introduced several ordinances from the planning committee, including changes to the city’s building fees.

Perkins also proposed an ordinance to reprogram unused Community Development Block Grant funds and legislation authorizing the city manager and Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi to apply for Clean Ohio funds for an asbestos abatement and demolition project at the former RG Steel plant in Steubenville.

An additional ordinance proposed by Perkins called authorization for the city manager to execute a housing revolving loan fund administration agreement with the Ohio Development Services Agency.

Sixth Ward Councilman David Lalich called for a finance committee meeting to be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in executive session with Mayor Domenick Mucci and Law Director S. Gary Repella. Lalich said the purpose of the meeting is to discuss personnel.

And, 5th Ward Councilman Willie Paul asked for a service committee meeting at 6:30 p.m. prior to the Feb. 5 council meeting to discuss grass cutting and high weeds.

“I want to start talking now in order to prepare for the summer season,” said Paul.