Plain City intersection hits another road block

By Andrea Chaffin -

A proposed major intersection project has hit another road block in Plain City.

The long-anticipated project is slated to improve the intersection adjacent to Der Dutchman. Specifically, it includes adding a traffic light and turn lanes at the intersection of West Avenue and U.S. Route 42. The village has spent $173,300 purchasing property from nearby owners for the project.

But when bids were opened Monday morning, it was discovered there was only one bid. And it was about $240,000 above the estimate.

Decker Construction Company of Columbus submitted a bid for $903,000. The estimate, prepared by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) last year — is $662,183.

Per Ohio law, a contract cannot be approved it is higher than 10 percent above an estimate.

“Obviously that was a big surprise and disappointing,” said Madison County Engineer Bryan Dhume.

Plain City’s village administrator, Kevin Vaughn, said his office receives calls two to three days a week asking about the status of the project.

“It’s important to people,” he said. “Those trucks are coming into that intersection at 50 mph and you’re pulling in front of them. It’s dangerous.”

It’s another delay to a project years in the making.

Plain City officials realized years ago an improvement was needed to the intersection as traffic continued to increase with the population of the village, soon to be a city. Public meetings were held about three years ago.

Originally, an ODOT study concluded the signal wasn’t warranted. Dhume said ODOT considers that section of U.S. Route 42 to be a major thoroughfare — which carries a large volume of truck traffic — and the state agency wants few, if any traffic signals to potentially impede the flow of truck traffic on U.S. Route 42 between Interstate 70 and Interstate 71 in Delaware County.

Former county engineer David Brand has worked closely with Plain City officials, as well as state officials, to hire a different company to do its own study, which determined the signal was needed, Dhume said.

Then, the $1 million project was set in place: the bulk of it would be federally funded with the county engineer’s office absorbing the bulk of maintenance costs and the state providing the bid estimate.

It’s a partnership Dhume called “unusual.” Work was set to be in full swing at this point.

But after Brand’s sudden death in December, the project came to a halt.

Now, Dhume plans to analyze the state’s old estimate. He suspects it was too low because the amount used for materials was an outdated figure that didn’t reflect bulk purchasing. He plans to re-bid the project and open it later in August.

Projected start date is September with completion of the roadwork by December.

Dhume said he knows the project is especially important to residents and has been for some time.

“They have a lot of near [crash] misses there because of it,” he said. “There is no question it’s needed.”

By Andrea Chaffin

Andrea Chaffin can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.

Andrea Chaffin can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.