LIMA — The third phase of construction on the Elm Street underpass project is scheduled to begin next week, forcing the temporary closure of a portion of Bellefontaine Avenue, according to Lima officials.
Improvements planned as part of the multi-million dollar project that has been more than 15 years in the making include a railroad grade separation of the Indiana and Ohio Railway and a roundabout at the three-way intersection of Elm Street, Bellefontaine Avenue and Calumet Avenue.
Bellefontaine Avenue will be closed starting at 7 a.m. Monday for construction of the roundabout portion of the project. Traffic will be rerouted utilizing the temporary pavement connected to Bellefontaine Avenue on the west end, the newly-constructed Elm Street and underpass and Shawnee Street.
Businesses on Bellefontaine Avenue — between the CVS pharmacy and Shawnee Street — can be accessed from the east end of the project from the intersection of Bellefontaine Avenue and Shawnee Street. Businesses on Bellefontaine Avenue and Elm Street — between Calumet and Harrison Avenue — can be accessed from the west end of the project.
The project, consisting of extensive reworking of the Indiana and Ohio railroad, the construction of the underpass and the creation of a roundabout at the three-way intersection of Elm Street, Bellefontaine Avenue and Calumet Avenue, is slated for completion in June 2020.
Originally estimated to cost $20 million, much of the extensive planning stages resulted from trying to find funding sources for the project. The majority of the project will be paid for through state grants from the Ohio Department of Transportation. Local public dollars, which function as local matches for the state grants, total $850,000.
Private donations to the project include $50,000 from both Lima Memorial Health Systems and Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center, which helped secure $4 million necessary to start the project.
Work on the project began in April 2018, and the railroad bridge work started almost a year later. About that same time, road reconstruction work began on Shawnee and Elm streets, east of Shawnee Street.
It is anticipated the closure for the construction of the roundabout will remain until approximately June 24, 2020. Changeable message signs will be placed on Interstate 75 to re-route motorists.