Butler County drivers will begin seeing major roadway improvements this year from a series of projects that will continue with big moves in the next week.
The county government usually has the biggest roadwork to-do list, but the city of Middletown this year and next is launching a blitz of road resurfacing spending, including $51.6 million to fix a third (217) of the 621 lane miles in the city.
City Manager Jim Palenick told the Journal-News drivers will be disrupted, but the 0.25 percent, 10-year income tax levy voters approved last November made rapid road repairs possible.
“We’ve told them pardon our progress because there will be detours, there will be orange cones, there will be disruption but let’s face it, you do that much paving there will be some inconvenience but for good reason,” Palenick said. “But the good news is we’re not going to inconvenience you for ten years, we’re going to do it in a very compressed time frame and get it done.”
The city sold bonds in March so there is $31.3 million for paving streets, about $8 million to rebuild Central Avenue next year, about $3.5 million in regular roadwork and several state-supported projects, according to Palenick.
The project project for the county engineer’s office starts Monday in Liberty Twp. as crews get to work on the $24.5 million project to fix the often-tricky interchange Interstate 75 at Liberty Way and Ohio 129. About half the cost will be covered with outside funding, the rest will be paid with tax increment financing district money.
County Engineer Greg Wilkens is in charge of road, intersection and bridge work on county and township roads and the five cities, Fairfield, Hamilton, Middletown, Oxford and Trenton are responsible for their own streets.
Wilkens said that while the two-season project is huge, drivers won’t encounter many detours or traffic interruptions.
“The beauty of it quite honestly is they won’t be inconvenienced that much,” Wilkens said. “The way the project is laid out it works out good for the public. The reality of the game is the only place where we have to, where we’re maintaining traffic is Cox Road when we build the roundabout, the rest of it is pretty much offline.”
Next week, crews will start on the west side of the roundabout installation on Cox Road, which will remain open to The Christ Hospital. Bridge and westbound traffic on Ohio 129 and work on the northbound I-75 on-ramp will also occur in that area, but there will be minimal construction directly on Ohio 129. Traffic will be maintained for most of the construction period, especially in the early phases.
Wilkens’ $43 million capital projects list also includes $6.5 million to improve four intersections with roundabouts. The largest project is on the outskirts of Trenton at Wayne Madison and Trenton roads. There is much utility work to be done in that area so construction won’t start until July or August.
In Liberty Twp. where Wilkens said there has been an 11% traffic increase on LeSourdsville West Chester Road — the annual norm is 3% — a roundabout will be installed on the south leg at Millikin Road. That work is scheduled to begin May 24. There are two projects on Butler Warren Road in West Chester Twp. that began in mid-April at Barret Road and another at West Chester Road. These traffic circles should be complete by the time Lakota students return in the fall.
This year Wilkens plans to spend $6 million fixing 16.96 miles worth of county-owned roads and just over 28 miles within various townships. To save money Wilkens handles bidding and oversees paving projects for the townships, but those jurisdictions pay their own bills.
Hamilton voters also opened their wallets for road repairs, approving a 10-year, 3.9-mill levy to fix residential streets last year. This year the city will spend $4.58 million resurfacing and repairing 25 streets.
“I’ve never had this much money to spend on streets before,” Hamilton’s Director of Engineering Rich Engle said. “So it’s been very refreshing to have the ability to address citizen complaints.”
Hamilton also has a unique plan to ease gridlock downtown. When the massive Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill opens, traffic is expected to much heavier. Almost $15 million is being poured into the road and utility infrastructure work around that project. The city is also working on design for the $5 million project to install an adaptive traffic signal system that involves 97 traffic lights.
“That’s going to be the latest smart technology in traffic signal coordination so that traffic signals will have parameters that they can operate from within,” Engle said. “So they can do their own self adjustment to address any traffic congestion they are noticing in their sensors.”
Another major improvement is also under shovel at Main/Cereal/Haldimand/Western and McKinley on the west side. Engle said they received nearly $3 million in Ohio Department of Transportation safety funding for the $3.6 million project to realign those streets and eliminate multiple traffic lights.
Fairfield Public Works Director Ben Mann said the city plans to spend $2.5 million replacing curbs and resurfacing 23.5 lane miles, among some other smaller projects this year. Mann said they have been “pretty aggressive” keeping streets in good condition.
“We try to overlay them before they start to fall apart,” Mann said adding a resident told him recently his street didn’t look that bad. “I was like well we try to get them before they fall apart and everybody is screaming that they need overlaid, we try to be just a hair proactive.”