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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

City Busy Behind the Scenes on North Fort Thomas Sidewalk Project

sidewalk project on North Fort Thomas Avenue begins at corner of Covert Run Pike
Work on the North Fort Thomas Avenue sidewalk is planned to begin early next year after NKWD replaces the water main.

By Robin Gee, Council Beat Editor

Residents concerned that they have not heard much about a federal grant project to create a sidewalk along North Fort Thomas Avenue can expect more information coming this fall. A public meeting will be announced once design plans for the project are complete and before bids for construction begin.

The city of Fort Thomas announced last year that it had received a federal Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grant to help fund the creation of a sidewalk along North Fort Thomas Avenue from Covert Run Pike to the city limit near Dayton.

In an 80/20 split, the city would receive $592,300 from TAP. The remaining funds, about $37,500, would come from the current road aid fund set aside for this type of improvement project. City staff would also provide in-kind services for the project.

RELATED: City of Fort Thomas Awarded Grant Over $500,000 to Build Sidewalks

Jumping through hoops

City Administrator Ron Dill said he is aware that not much information has been shared since the announcement, and residents are beginning to ask about the project.

"Frankly, Fort Thomas has not received many federal grants so the process may be unfamiliar. The government requires the city meet several thresholds and meeting those takes time."

For example, he said, the grant required information be submitted before the bidding process could begin and required an open bid for engineering. There has been a lengthy interview process as well and additional requirements for each step along the way.

CT Consultants won the bid and is working on the design for construction. Another requirement of the grant is that the engineer must identify all easements needed for private property affected by the project before the design plan is completed.

"The federal government requires this be done in a very specific way. If it were just the city involved we would go and contact the property owners directly but it’s not quite that simple in a federal project," explained Dill. Getting approvals each step of the way extends the process.

"The project has never been stalled by the city. The city has always been committed to it, but we are making sure we do all we can do to take advantage of the grant opportunity," he said.

Water main project must come first

Another factor has added time to the project. During the grant process, the city identified several water main breaks in the area. With this information, the Northern Kentucky Water District decided it was time to replace the main. The district is working on the design process for its project, and its work must be completed before the city can begin.

NKWD is expected to complete work on the water main by the end of 2018. The city project should get underway soon after, in time for the “construction season” in early spring 2019. If all goes well, the new sidewalk should be completed mid-summer.

It's all about connectivity

The project fits well into the visioning that has been ongoing in Fort Thomas, says Dill.

"My biggest takeaway from this is that during the visioning process we talked a lot about all forms of connectivity. Pedestrian connectivity is an important piece of the vision plan. It’s a positive step forward in any type of discussions about connectivity."

The sidewalk, which will run along the left side of the avenue, represents the longest stretch of sidewalk in the city.

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