STEUBENVILLE - Six Ohio engineering consulting firms have submitted letters of interest to do the design and environmental work on the long-awaited Lovers Lane expansion project.
City Engineer Michael Dolak said city administration officials will narrow the list of interested consultants to two firms and then may ask them to meet with a group of city officials to discuss the multi-million dollar project.
"We hope to get an engineering firm on board for this project by the end of this year. The consultant will then do the environmental review as well as prepare a design that will meet state and federal standards and we are tentatively planning for construction in 2015," explained Dolak.
LOVERS LANE PROJECT — Steubenville City Engineer Michael Dolak looks over conceptual plans for the future Lovers Lane project. Dolak expects to spend the next two years working with a consulting firm that will prepare a detailed design for the street expansion. Actual construction on the street is tentatively set for 2015.
"These are qualification-based submissions. The design and environmental work will be paid for with city funds," said Dolak.
"We are looking at three alternatives for this project. The first alternate plan is to do nothing and keep Lovers Lane as it is now. The second alternate plan is to widen Lovers Lane to include a turning lane as motorists approach Fort Steuben Mall Drive. That plan could include widening the street only on the east side or on both sides. The third alternate plan includes a roundabout design at the Lovers Lane and Fort Steuben Drive intersection," Dolak said.
"Lovers Lane has 12,000 vehicles a day traveling on Lovers Lane to and from Sunset Boulevard. That is a lot of vehicular traffic on the two-lane roadway," he added.
"We just completed Phase 1 of our Lovers Lane project this year that saw the Lovers Lane Connector repaved by Shelly & Sands of Rayland. The connector opened in 1992, so we got 20 years out of the roadway. We hope the paving project gives us another 20 years. We are preparing for Phase 2 of the Lovers Lane project that will see expansion of Lovers Lane at the intersection with Fort Steuben Drive," explained Dolak.
"At this point the city's share of the Lovers Lane Connector project is $10,000. We received $200,000 from the Ohio Public Works Commission and an additional $759,897 from the Federal Highway Administration, which is administered by the Ohio Department of Transportation. We worked very hard to leverage all available funding to do this work," cited Dolak.
"Our conceptual design at this point will see Lovers Lane widened from the current nine-and-a-half-foot lanes to 12-foot lanes. We are also looking at expanding the Lovers Lane and Sunset Boulevard intersection," Dolak said.
"The roundabout, if we choose that option, could be 100 percent federally funded. That would be the first phase of this project. The second phase would be widening the existing lanes and the Lovers Lane and Sunset Boulevard intersection," Dolak said.
City officials have been reviewing and discussing plans for Lovers Lane to Fort Steuben Drive for the past several years.
"Studies show there is a great deal of traffic on Lovers Lane from Sunset Boulevard to the Mall Drive intersection. After the intersection that number of vehicles drops to approximately 5,000 vehicles a day. A roundabout naturally calms down busy traffic in residential areas. It would allow us to efficiently handle the traffic at that intersection," said Dolak.
City Manager Cathy Davison has said officials also are looking at widening Lovers Lane and are considering right-of-way issues at the intersection of Lovers Lane and Sunset Boulevard.
"That may affect private property at that intersection. The estimated cost of the Lovers Lane project is $8.6 million, of which $5.9 million will be federal funding. We are working closely with Mike Paprocki at the Brooke-Hancock Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission in order to obtain federal funds for this work," said Davison.
"Our future plans also call for the widening of entrance of the Lovers Lane and Sunset Boulevard intersection. That project is tentatively planned for 2016," Dolak noted.
"This is such a significant project we want to do our due diligence in choosing an engineering consulting firm. There will be millions of dollars eventually spent on this project and it will have a long-term effect on the residents in the West End as well as major commercial business area," stated Dolak.