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OU Gives City Greenlight For Richland Avenue “Underpass” Project

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ATHENS — A pedestrian passageway project in Athens is another step closer to construction.

The Ohio University Board of Trustees approved an easement that will allow the city to construct an underpass on a part of campus that surrounds Richland Avenue.

The project will involve raising the street to make room for the new corridor between West Green and the area between Grover Center and Porter Hall.

A proposal for the “brick alternative” that will be used in the Richland Avenue “Underpass” project. (Courtesy City of Athens)

“That area has always been a high congestion area for vehicles and pedestrians ,” Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said. “To hear that the board of trustees approved the easement is outstanding news.”

The project was introduced last September to the Athens City Council. City officials said a study of the traffic in the area then showed about 1,300 pedestrians per hour and 750 to 1,000 vehicles hourly.

A grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternative program will pay for most of the cost, which was estimated to be $3 million in total. The city will be left with about $350,000 to $400,000, according to previous reporting by WOUB.

The start of the project will be determined by the bidding process the city will go through to find who will handle construction.

“But part of that bidding process is that we would like construction to begin as soon as Ohio University graduation is done, which is what we typically do,” Patterson said.

They hope to have the project completed before students return for the 2019-2020 school year.

Two options for the look of the new pedestrian tunnel were unveiled in February named “brick alternative” and “O alternative.”

The City of Athens conducted a poll on Twitter pitting the two arch designs against each other. The “brick alternative” received 70 percent of the vote with almost 1,300 voters participating and will be the design the city pursues.

It will also have LED lights on the inside for safety and artistic purposes.

“They’ll be able to change colors,” Patterson said. “It’ll be pretty cool.”

The easement was one of the final hurdles before the city could begin the bidding process. Patterson said the board’s approval is a testament to the relationship between the city and the school.

“Ohio University has been a great partner on this project, as they have with past project and I’m sure projects in the future.”

Lukas Moore contributed the time-lapse video of the crosswalk between West Green and the corridor between Grover Center and Porter Hall.