VANDALIA — The major construction phase of the Dixie Drive widening project has finally gotten underway. Crews have placed construction signs and were busy cutting out an old water main in front of Butler High School on Friday morning.
The project, which will result in Dixie Drive being four lanes throughout its entire length in Vandalia, is expected to take about a year.
While traffic was utilizing a flag man on Friday morning to divert around the water main, Vandalia Director of Public Service Rob Cron said that once the water main is removed, two way traffic will be restored.
“The contractor will be laying pavement on the west side of Dixie Drive and shifting traffic in that direction,” said Cron.
Cron said that maintaining sidewalks for use by Butler students will be a priority.
“Normally those sidewalks wouldn’t be accessible, but the contractor is going to impede foot traffic as little as possible,” he said.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is managing the project and will be responible for inspections. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $4.27 million with $2.64 million being paid for through federal and state funding via the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC).
Vandalia’s share of the cost, originally estimated to be around $800,000, was increased to approximately $1.6 million in June when bids for the project came in higher than anticipated. At that time, the City Council voted to authorize additional borrowing through the State Infrasturcture Bank to fund the additional costs.
Council weighed cancelling the project or delaying it and applying for more funds through the MVRPC but both options were unappealing.
Cancelling the project altogether was not palatable because the city had already spent around $900,000 for utility relocation, design work, and property acquisition for the right-of-way.
Applying for more funds throught the MVRPC was possible, but that would have delayed construction until at least 2019, and possibly later.
In an interview in June, City Manager Jon Crusey laid out why the city opted to continue with the project.
“It’s a combination of things,” said Crusey. “It’s the work that has already been done, the funds that have already been spent, and the fact that if we delay and try to get more funding, it will be about a five-year delay. If we delay the project for five years, we will still need to go out and invest money into that area because it is in pretty bad shape.
“This is the last phase to be widened in the City, and if we delay five years the cost of the project will go up which means our share of the expense goes up. It just didn’t make sense to delay the project.”