The $3.6 million Richland Avenue pedestrian passageway project has been set to move forward on March 2, Ohio University has announced.

The project is a collaboration with the city of Athens, and has been in discussions for many years. The goal is to make this crossing safer, as it connects West Green to the center of campus and hundreds of students utilize the crossing every day.

The crossing also causes traffic jams during high-traffic times, and student safety has been the main concern driving this project.

In June, Athens City Council voted to approve funding for the project. The city has promised $1.4 million for the $3.3 million project, with at least $400,000 coming from the university, and the rest provided through grants offered by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Then-Athens City Council member Patrick McGee voiced his opposition of the project, stating that if safety is a concern than this project is coming far too late and interim measures should be put in place.

Due to this, McGee was the sole vote against the funding.

The Richland Avenue Pedestrian Crossing project is intended to separate pedestrians from vehicle traffic by elevating the roadway and creating a passageway underneath it for pedestrians.

“By elevating the roadway for the new passageway between West Green and South Green, pedestrians – including students, staff and faculty – will be able to move safely and independently from the vehicles on the roadway,” said Steve Wood, Ohio University Chief Facilities Officer. “This project will not only help with traffic congestion, but it will address the campus’ number one safety concern as well.”

Both directions of Richland Avenue traffic between West Green Drive and Bobcat Lane will be closed beginning in March. The project is expected to be completed in September of this year, but traffic is expected to resume for both pedestrians and traffic in August.

The intersection of Richland Avenue and Bobcat Lane will remain open with temporary limitations. Traffic from Bobcat Lane will be able to turn right onto Richland, and southbound traffic on Richland will be able to turn left into Bobcat Lane. Additionally, the existing crosswalk will be closed to all pedestrians for the duration of the project.

There is also a project website provided by Transportation and Parking Services to help show the project scope. This page will provide construction updates, road updates, and detour directions for colleges and departments to utilize throughout the closure.

How this will effect bus schedules and other transit services has not yet been finalized. The Doublemap app tracks city busses in real time and will have announcements of service during the construction period.

Community members who have specific questions about the project are encouraged to contact the City of Athens Engineering and Public Works Department by emailing epwsupport@ci.athens.oh.us or calling 740-593-7636.

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