Middletown approves bike path project as bids come in over estimate

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Middletown recently approved additional funding for the Great Miami River bike path connection after bids came in over estimate.

City Council approved a contract on April 7 with the Ohio Department of Transportation to complete the final 1.4-mile connection of the Great Miami River Recreation Trail between Middletown and Franklin. Acting City Manager Susan Cohen said ODOT opened the bid on April 23 as all 12 bidders were over ODOT’s estimate of the project of nearly $2.65 million with Middletown and Franklin using federal and state funding for their portions of the project.

City officials said the contract needs to be amended and an additional $169,840 in local funding is required so ODOT can move forward on the project. The new amount of Middletown’s share is now $1.20 million, up from $1.03 million. Middletown also received a $601,480 federal grant through the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments.

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In his report, Scott Tadych, public works/utilities director, said ODOT attributed the increase was due to the need of a 706-foot long and up to seven feet tall retaining wall. ODOT said the retaining wall was needed because of the elevation different and narrow horizontal separation between Ohio 73 and the Great Miami River. City officials asked if the project could be delayed, but Franklin and ODOT wanted to move forward with the project.

ODOT also told city officials that they prefer not to rebid because the bulk of the overages were due to the costs for “the retaining wall and that rebidding would unlikely result in lower overall costs.”

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City officials said cancelling the project could put future funding in jeopardy. They said there were no guarantees about future funding due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and that federal funding through OKI is typically programmed four years in advance and also could put Franklin’s funding in jeopardy.

ODOT will manage the project and construction is expected to begin in July 2020 and completed by September 2021.

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The new extension will go from the trailhead on Baxter Drive in Franklin along Ohio 73 into a point about 800 feet east of the traffic light at North Breiel Boulevard in Middletown. The project also includes a 10-foot-wide multiuse trail, retaining wall, and storm sewer extensions throughout the route. In addition, there will be the extension of several large diameter storm water culverts under Ohio 73 and installation of concrete barriers to separate bike and motor vehicle traffic.

Federal funding was programmed in 2016 through OKI and the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission to cover 80 percent of the costs planned for construction in 2020. However, both cities are required to pay their shares of the project’s costs up front, officials said.