Plans for a sidewalk project along state Route 170 are moving forward, and construction could start as early as this summer, township officials say.
The Ohio Department of Transportation announced in May that Poland Township would receive a $500,000 grant from the Safe Routes to School program for the sidewalk.
The walk will parallel the east side of Route 170 from about Nesbitt Road to just before Dobbins Road. Dobbins Elementary School sits at the corner of Route 170 and Dobbins Road, but does not have a sidewalk in front of it. “ODOT wants to see a connection point,” said Trustee Robert J. Lidle Jr.
There is a sidewalk behind Dobbins Elementary School, which is where the connection is planned, Lidle said.
The school board supports the sidewalk project, said Richard Weaver, Poland board of education president.
“We supported [Lidle] when he was going after the grant. We’ve been on board,” Weaver said. “As long as it doesn’t cut through the baseball field or the playground, nobody has an issue.”
The other obstacle near Route 170 and Dobbins Road had been the open drainage system.
“If the sidewalk were to go right along 170, just past the Masonic Temple where the baseball field is, we would run into a major financial hurdle with those storm culverts. Those would have to be piped and covered over ... which is another reason why we want to jut onto school property and then connect to the sidewalks behind Dobbins,” Lidle said.
The $500,000 grant should cover the entire cost of the project, but “there is always the potential of it being a little bit more or less,” Lidle said.
The township is overseeing the project and will handle the bid process.
On Wednesday, trustees approved an agreement with MS Consultants for engineering proposals for the Safe Routes to School project. The plans then must be sent to ODOT for approval.
Also at the Wednesday meeting, John P. Scotford Jr. of Town One Streetscapes told trustees that the civic group, which works on beautification projects in the township and village, will help pay the difference if the sidewalk project costs more than the grant.
He added that Street-scapes would be interested in enhancing the sidewalk, possibly with benches and street lights.
The township first applied for the Safe Routes to School grant in 1999 and several other times before 2012, when it received the full funding. The township has a deadline of fiscal year 2015 for the project’s completion.
“We are hopeful that we will begin anywhere from mid to the later part of summer, and it will be something the community will enjoy come this fall,” Lidle said.
It might not be the township’s last sidewalk project.On Wednesday, trustees said they plan to submit an application through the same grant source, seeking funding for a second phase of the sidewalk project that would continue the Route 170 sidewalk south and possibly install sidewalks on Clingan and Dobbins roads.