City holds open house on Rocky Ford Road project

Work will begin soon on a project to improve a section of Rocky Ford Road in Columbus. When finished, city officials say there will be new curbs, gutters, a storm sewer system, a continuous left turn lane, bicycle lanes and sidewalks.

The city’s Engineering Department joined project designers, contractors and Fourth District Councilman Frank Miller in an open house Thursday evening to explain the work to area residents. The open house, which was held in the Richards Elementary School cafeteria, drew well over 100 people. These residents listened to a presentation, asked questions and shared their concerns about the project.

The one portion of work set to get underway immediately is the cutting down, and removal, of trees in the project area. Steve Ruble, a design manager for Strand & Associates, explained that the tree work is being dictated by environmental regulations. Specifically, he said, in regards to the Indiana Bat. Ruble noted that contractors are in a race to get the trees removed before the bats return to this area for nesting. He explained that simply cutting the trees down is not enough, as the bats will also nest in downed trees. Ruble said that the marked trees need to be removed before the end of the month as the bats are on schedule to return shortly thereafter. If the trees are not removed in time, Ruble explained that the work would be pushed back to November.

Representatives of the contractor, Milestone, told residents that if the trees are removed in time, as expected, work on moving earth will begin after area utilities do their part. Milestone says they hope to begin that work in May or June. City officials stressed that they cannot force utilities to follow their timeline. With that, officials say that the project’s completion date is set for November of 2017.

Columbus Executive Director of Public Works Dave Hayward also talked about a peripheral project aimed at making it safer for students who walk to, and from, school in that area. While not a part of the core project, Hayward explained that the plan is to get this work done in conjunction with the Rocky Ford Road project. He explained that this is a “Safe Routes to School” project that targets Parkside and Richards Elementary. Hayward says that the work includes a side path from Richards to Rocky Ford Road, as well as pedestrian actuated traffic-light system that would alert drivers to children in the area. The hope, says Hayward, is to have this project done late this year or early in 2017.

Hayward says that you can learn more about this, and other, projects, by visiting