City focused on infrastructure

Published 10:03 am Monday, February 2, 2009

Ironton officials said 2009 may well be one of the busiest years the city has had in recent memory.

Bids will be opened this week on a major paving project. The effort to turn an old factory site of the past into an industrial site with a future is also taking a step forward. Other projects are in the works as well.

Bids will be opened this week on a project to mill and resurface and make curb and catch basin repairs to a portion of South Third Street.

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The work will affect the area between Ellison Street, near the old Wilson Sporting Goods building, and Lorain Street.

The $800,000 project is being used as local match funds for the Ironton Iron rehabilitation project. That $800,000 price tag is being paid in large part ($600,000) from the KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission. The city is picking up the rest of the tab through its state highway funds.

“We realize there are other streets in the city that also need to be paved but we couldn’t use it (this money) for other places,” Mayor Rich Blankenship explained.

The $800,000 will be considered as the city’s matching funds for the $2.5 million rehabilitation project. After hitting a snag, the project to cleanup the former iron works site is back on track. Water Quality, Inc., of Cincinnati was the apparent low bidder for the project when bids were opened last week.

That outfit will remove the concrete foundations, contaminated soil and perform other necessary rehabilitation at the site. Water Quality Inc., had been the low bidder when the bids were opened the first time last year.

However, state officials required the project to be rebid.

“The state required more documentation so we had to halt the project at their request until we got the extra paperwork,” Blankenship said.

The cleanup at the 24-acre site is being paid for through Clean Ohio funds from the Ohio Department of Development. That project should be completed by mid-summer.

The city should receive quotes this week for asbestos removal at the Ro-Na as well. Asbestos abatement is the next step in the plan to renovate the old theater that has sat unused or underused for decades.

“Then we can proceed to put a roof on it,” said Doug Cade, with E.L. Robinson Engineering. “We already have a contract with an architect to design the roof.”

As for the renovations to another aging city structure, asbestos abatement and roof stabilization continues at Memorial Hall.

Design work is continuing on the Depot Square Renovation project.

The first part of a project to separate the storm and sanitary sewers and improve drainage in the north end of town is now in the design phase.

Plans for the second phase of the sewer separation project have been approved by the Ohio Public Works Commission at the district level.

City officials are waiting on final approval and a grant agreement with that state agency.

The city is working with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to obtain a low-interest loan to design the project, however, city officials hope to get federal funds to help pay for the repairs that are being mandated by the O.E.P.A.

City leaders will also meet this week with Ohio Department of Transportation representatives to discuss specifics of the Safe Routes to Schools project.

Late last year the city was awarded a $54,000 grant for five projects listed in its School Travel Plan. Those five projects are bicycle racks, school zone signs, crosswalk signs, pavement markings, sidewalks and an education program.

“I’m looking forward to 2009 and I hope we can keep the momentum going,” Blankenship said. “As you can see we’re quite busy.”