Phase II of paving projects begin

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 23, 2023

Cramblit says proper planning allowed expansion of projects

Railroad Street in Ironton is seen before this year’s paving projects began. Mayor Sam Cramblit says projects for Phase II of paving have started and all projects will be underway by year’s end. (Screenshot)

When the City of Ironton began planning for paving projects at the start of COVID-19 in 2020, they had a choice: move quickly with the funds that they had, or, by waiting and doing more planning, accomplish things on a much bigger scale.

Mayor Sam Cramblit II said the latter is the path they took, and, this month, the result can clearly be seen.

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“A lot of this is grant funding and was held up,” he said. “And we are now rolling out all paving projects. It’s taken so long and non-stop work to get this right.”

Two projects, making up Phase I, are complete and Phase II of paving began these past few weeks, Cramblit said.

“To start, early in COVID, we had a list of project we had to do,” Cramblit said. “We needed to match those grants. We’ve taken and refinanced a lot of money, which provided some savings and put together a road and bridge improvement fund.

Cramblit said, at the time, there were limited funds to use outside those projects, because of all matches required.

He said the Kyova Interstate Planning Commission, which provided funds for projects in two locations, as well as federal funds from the Economic Development agency, which U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, helped secure for work on Third Street, helped to free up money and gave the city the “green light” to add more streets.

“We prioritized our city fund and now knew what is eligible for grant funding,” Cramblit said. “Once we knew what was eligible for grant funding, we started to tackle streets not eligible for grant funding. That’s what became Phase I.”
Cramblit said, by freeing up funding, they were then able to do a Phase II.

“Phase I and II both came in under budget, so then we’re adding more,” he said. “Then, we’re doing some other smaller projects as one offs.”

Phase I, which comprised 46 city blocks and two projects, began in April and is now complete.

Projects on Phase II began this week, with three remaining to start by year’s end — the KYOVA project, the South Third Street reconstruction project and the Batham Lane storm project.

Cramblit said the Batham Lane project, one of the city’s biggest infrastructure upgrades in decades, is the one he is most proud to see come about.

“It’s been needed for 70 years,” he said. “There is no storm infrastructure on that end of town. It’s great to be able to see — for that part of the community, they’d lost all hope in that happening — to be able to start that.”

Cramblit said though these projects have been in the works for three years, they were held up by “red tape” regarding the grants. But the wait and doing studies on street uses and prioritizing needs allowed them to expand significantly.

He said they originally planned for 40 block, but now they will be able to cover 200.

Council member Jacob Hock said this “allowed dollars to be stretched as far as possible.”

He credits the council “having a good working relationship with the current mayor,” and said a key moment came during planning when the city’splanning director, John Elam, advised then to “go big.”

“Then, there was consensus and you slowly saw everyone come to that conclusion,” Hock said. “We could have jumped the gun earlier, but we wouldn’t have seen the same results we have now.”

Cramblit said, over the past two years, the city has received $15 million in grant funding.

“And some of it it is for things for projects we haven’t even rolled out yet,” he said. “Like a solution for a parking garage downtown. It now has the funding we need from multiple sources. There’s been a lot of money pouring in for infrastructure. We’re blessed with grant writers and engineers who put together these projects.”