Columbus Road Rehab To Be Complete By October

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The city of Athens has received a grant to plant between 25-30 trees in a median on Columbus Road as part of a larger rehabilitation project of the corridor.
The city is the recipient of a 2013 Keep America Beautiful/UPS Community Tree Planting Grant.
The Columbus Road/Lancaster Street improvement project is currently underway and is expected to be complete by the end of October. Crews are currently working to replace a water line on Lancaster Street that will extend to Mound Street as the first part of the project.
According to Andy Stone, director of the city’s department of engineering and public works, the project will include sidewalk and curb improvements and a slight reconfiguration of the intersection of Lancaster and Columbus Road.
The turning lane on Lancaster Street that leads to Second Street will be eliminated and a bike lane will be added going up the hill from Carpenter Street to Second Street.
The trees awarded in the new grant will be used to create a median starting just north of the Athens Fire Station to where the current four-lane ends with a break in the median at Sunset Drive near Dairy Queen.
As The Messenger previously reported, the road was created as a four-lane as it served as Route 33. However, the extra lanes are no longer needed since the highway was complete in the 1970s.
Paving will take place on Lancaster Street to Carpenter Street and the entire length of Columbus Road to the city limits.
Driving lanes on Columbus Road will also be reduced by one foot to allow for wider shoulders for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Construction on the project began Aug. 12 and Stone said crews will have 75 days to complete the project — which puts the deadline at the end of October.
The tree grant was awarded to Keep Southeast Ohio Beautiful, the local affiliate of Keep America Beautiful.
Wayne National Forest also received funding from the tree planting grant. The national forest will plant several large native trees to produce shade, wildlife food and habitat, as well as beautify a 3-acre lake at the Upstream Rock Run Reclamation Site between New Straitsville and Shawnee in Perry County.
“Keep Southeast Ohio Beautiful is proud to receive grant funding in the amount of $5,000 to support our tree planting efforts,” said Gary Chancey, team leader for the affiliate. “Selected species will provide Athens with a landscaped street, which will help maintain their Tree City USA designation. Additional plantings on the Wayne National Forest will help provide shade for the visiting public and provide wildlife habitat.”