LIMA — In a political dance to gain federal funding for a railroad underpass, the city of Lima approved applying for Ohio Department of Transportation funds to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Bellefontaine and Calumet avenues and Elm Street.
Lima City Council members unanimously voted Monday in favor of authorizing Mayor Dave Berger to submit a safety project application for a grant to purchase right of ways and to construct the roundabout at an estimated cost of $2.22 million. The railroad underpass is estimated to cost $18 million and would use U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER IV discretionary funds.
“This will be a great improvement along with the campus at Lima Senior and there are some future designs with the stadium being renovated and the land area is being looked at for development so it will just be a win-win for that area of the city,” 5th Ward Councilor Teresa Adams, who chairs the Public Works Committee, said after Monday's council meeting. “My main concern for the roundabout, and I heard it during the public hearing at Lima Senior, is with semi traffic on Bellefontaine and if the radius and size of the roundabout can handle an 18-wheeler and not be blocking two lanes.”
Adams, who has traveled in the United States and abroad, favors the use of a roundabout and stressed the importance of educating the public on driving through a roundabout. She said the Shawnee Road roundabout being constructed this year through the Allen County Engineer's Office at the intersection of Shawnee and Fort Amanda roads should help motorists as they become more acquainted with maneuvering through a roundabout.
Council President John Nixon, who has voiced his personal dissatisfaction with roundabouts in the past, said he would squelch his own displeasure with the traffic device for the betterment of the community.
“In the larger scheme of things, the more important part of the Bellefontaine Avenue project is developing a process to bypass that railroad crossing.” Nixon said. “Maybe I will be wrong, maybe it will be successful, but if that is a compromise we have to make to expedite the Bellefontaine rail separation then I will accept that compromise and remain silent. I am not going to be the guy that kills this project.”
The ODOT grant requires a 10 percent match from the city of Lima. ODOT will fund 90 percent of the project. Adams said she believes the project would start in 2016.