St. C. council reviews road projects

ST. CLAIRSVILLE City council reviewed ongoing projects during Monday evening’s meeting.

Council Member Libby Heintzelman raised several questions concerning the city’s planned involvement with the Transportation Improvement Division and the planned I-70 extension project. She noted that the TID section follows the alignment of Newlin Road and property to be acquired includes a half-acre from the Stewart family on either side of the current right-of-way. The rest of the property will be donated by the Stein family and the Cafaro Company and a small piece south of I-70 will be acquired by ODOT. She asked why ODOT will acquire that piece of property and not others.

Service Director Dennis Bigler said that is the federalized section.

Heintzelman quoted a memo, specifying that safety capacity and connectivity are the chief priorities and the construction requires no money from the city except for a federal earmark spent on environmental review and design. About $4-5 million is expected to be left to spend on the construction of the ODOT portion. The $6.9 million will be used on the county section and the county’s $1.9 million on the city section, allowing the TID to build the city section now and leverage the Transportation Review Advisory Committee funds and facilitate private development.

Heintzelman asked if the $6.9 million would expire at some point and if that was imminent. Bigler said it likely would eventually, and that the earmark can be used for no other purpose. He confirmed that TRAC funds have already been awarded to the city for the project.

Heintzelman said the deadlines for TRAC applications are May of this year. She inquired if the city had any financial obligation if the TRAC application were submitted. Bigler said ODOT officials had assured the city there would be no financial obligation. He added that most of the TRAC funds already awarded are being administered by ODOT.

Heintzelman said she understood TRAC funds were an 80/20 split. She asked if the city could have a lawsuit pressed against it from a prior 1999 judgment from the Stewart/Stein lawsuit. Law Director Al Davies said he would research the matter.

Bigler said the city has sought sources of non-TRAC funding including additional earmark funds and other financial development techniques to produce money.

In other matters, Bigler noted the installation of water meters will begin Thursday. He also suggested council look into a hotel or lodging tax.

Council held the reading of an ordinance approving the extension of the city’s contract with American Electric Power which will extend until 2019-20 and lower energy rates $1 per megawatt hour. Bigler noted that the energy component will be a known quantity through 2020.

“This is a great opportunity,” said Mayor Robert Vincenzo.

In other matters, Police Chief Jeff Henry introduced Adam Porter, St. Clairsville’s newest police officer.

Also, he noted a traffic study will be necessary before reducing the speed limit on Route 9 from the Interstate to the city limits. The city would have to hire someone to perform the study. Council will look at prices.

Also, council will consider reducing the speed limit from Crosby Oil to Barton Lane to 25 miles per hour.

A citizen inquired about placing a handicapped parking spot in front of her East Main Street residence. The street committee will look into it.

Council also noted several parking concerns on Woodrow Avenue and South Marietta Street. Vehicles have been parking in several locations all day and putting a strain on businesses. Signage has been put up and council will look at the results before considering other measures.

Council Member Frank Sabatino noted that candidates for the position of Cumberland Trail Fire Chief have been reviewed. Further action will be taken during the regular meeting Wednesday at 4 p.m. A work session will be held Thursday to finalize the interview committee. An announcement is expected within a month.

The Belmont County Animal Rescue League will hold its annual 5-K walk/run on the bike trail Oct. 11.

The National Day of Prayer Bible Reading Task Force will begin their reading in preparation for May 1, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the courthouse plaza. Daily readings will be held 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank@timesleaderonline.com