Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, June 5 newspaper on Page A3.
Athens City Council members have approved a large funding request to build a pedestrian crossing project on Richland Avenue near the Convocation Center.
The project has been in the works for several years, with officials deeming it necessary to improve pedestrian safety and the flow of traffic. The crosswalk would be reconstructed to be an underpass of the roadway, connecting Ohio University’s West Green to the center of campus.
The project is now anticipated to cost $3.4 million, with the city to pay $1.4 million of that cost. Ohio University has already pledged $400,000 toward the project as well, and university administrators are expected to approach the OU Board of Trustees to approve further funding at an upcoming meeting. Grant funding from the Ohio Department of Transportation will pay for the remaining amount.
The project is set to begin March 2020 and be completed by September. A Mansfield-based construction company has already been awarded a bid to complete the project.
The project was approved with six members in favor and Council Member Patrick McGee dissenting. McGee expressed that he has opposed this project since it was first introduced, and said again Monday that he would like to see alternatives considered.
Council hears road closure proposals
Several road closures were also discussed Monday, and one was approved for Sunday, Aug. 25 for the OU Involvement Fair. University officials have said the involvement fair — featuring the entire incoming freshman class — has outgrown the space allotted on the College Green. Council approved closing Union Street (between Court and College streets); this will not impact the vending spaces nearby.
Other road closures, yet to be approved, included two for Ohio Brew Week. One is needed for Saturday, July 13 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on West State Street (between Court and Congress streets); the second is for Saturday, July 20 from 6 a.m. to midnight on Court Street (between Washington and Carpenter streets) and on State Street (between Congress and College streets).
Road closures for Boogie on the Bricks were also discussed. The event is planned for Aug. 10. This will be the fifth event within a six-week summer window in uptown Athens, and concerns were raised Monday that having so many events could be disruptive to the town and businesses on Court Street. The requested closure is for Court Street (between State and Carpenter streets) from 6 a.m. on Aug. 10 to 1 a.m. the following morning.
Cory Fletcher, the event coordinator for Boogie on the Bricks, read from a prepared statement from the organizing board, which noted the cuts the festival will have to implement to now fit within the one block. The acoustic stage and new community education stage will both have to be dropped, and the children’s area may need to be dramatically reduced or eliminated altogether. The statement requested that the city consider allowing at least one intersection to close for the event.