Urbana City Council signs off on U.S. 36 facelift


This fall, a portion of East U.S. Route 36 stretching from Berwick Drive to Lippincott Lane will look completely different after the Urbana City Council on Tuesday agreed to move forward with two projects aimed at improving not only the roadway, but also the adjacent rights of way.

The largest of the two projects – the U.S. 36 East Improvements Project – will involve the installation of curbs and gutters, sidewalks, street lights and storm sewer infrastructure.

To carry out the construction work, which Community Development Manager Doug Crabill said could start as soon as next month, council agreed to enter into a contract with J&J Schlaegel Inc. of Urbana in the amount of $1,338,250.98.

“This has been a long time coming,” Crabill said. “This project was originally supposed to be constructed in 2016, but we are a year behind.”

The reason for the delay, he added, was that the city was required to acquire additional property to carry out the project, which caused the environment review of the area to be pushed back.

The $1.3 million project is being funded through a Transportation Alternatives program grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation that will go toward sidewalks and street lighting, a grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission for the stormwater infrastructure, and local funding from both the city and Urbana Township (a few properties within the project area are in the township, not within city corporation limits).

As for the city’s share of the project, Director of Finance Chris Boettcher said $170,000 has been budgeted for the transportation alternatives program match and for the OPWC grant match for the storm sewer improvements, the city has budgeted $65,000. The hope, she added, is the city’s final share of the project will come in below budget.

Crabill said more details concerning construction dates and detours will be shared soon.

Fixing the roadway

To address the condition of East U.S. Route 36 from Berwick Drive to Lippincott Lane, council waived the three-readings rule and passed on first reading a resolution authorizing ODOT to proceed with the resurfacing of this stretch of roadway once the U.S. 36 Improvements Project reaches the point where no more digging will be taking place.

Referred to as the ODOT Urban Resurfacing Project, the $619,030 project also involves the resurfacing of state Route 29 from the U.S. 36/SR 29 split near Bon Air Drive to the city’s eastern corporation limits near Eastview Drive.

Crabill said ODOT is picking up 80 percent of the costs, leaving the city to fund the remaining 20 percent or $123,806.

The resurfacing work is expected to take place in late summer or early fall, he added.

In other business:

•Following recommendations from administration and the Health Insurance Committee, council agreed to spend $1,213,162 on Medical Mutual group health insurance along with life, vision (VSP) and dental (Delta Dental) insurances.

Boettcher said the contract is a renewal and was the best option available. Along with a 10 percent increase from a year ago, the renewal includes and change in the variety of coverage plans being offered. Instead of just offering a single or family plan, the city will be able to offer the following four tiers: employee only, employee/spouse, employee/child and family.

There are currently 85 to 90 employees insured through the city’s policy, Boettcher said.

•Champaign County Municipal Court Judge Gil S. Weithman swore in Jason Kizer as the newest sergeant with the Urbana Police Division.

•Crabill informed council that all city utility bills mailed out next month will contain information on the new stormwater utility fee of $5 per month per meter. The fee will begin appearing on utility bills in April, he added.

•Mayor Bill Bean read a mayoral letter of recognition highlighting the Jerusalem Second Baptist Church’s 171st anniversary. The church is located at 1036 S. High St.

“I really congratulate them for their service to their parishioners and to the city of Urbana,” Bean said.

By Joshua Keeran

[email protected]

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.

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