Ambitious project helps ensure smooth streets, other upgrades
As the City Engineer for the City of Columbus, Neel-Schaffer has helped monitor, assess, and catalog the condition and maintenance of City streets for 20 years.
In 2000, Neel-Schaffer embarked on an ambitious project to measure and assess every street in the City. That process has led to the firm managing numerous paving projects on an annual and bi-annual basis over this period. As road standards and transportation mode demands changed, Neel-Schaffer’s involvement led to recommending the City adopt a “Complete Streets” ordinance, which was passed by the City in 2010. The ordinance calls for evaluations for ADA improvements, sidewalk additions, improved signage, and striping upgrades as each street is repaired and paved.
The firm keeps a detailed list of each street as it is paved, with dates, quantities, and associated costs, and it provides assessments of streets that have not been paved recently. Those assessments help the City prioritize which streets to pave when funding is available.
In addition to the maintenance assessment program, Neel-Schaffer helps advertise and secure construction bids and helps provide construction engineering and inspection services for the paving projects. Neel-Schaffer also coordinates infrastructure planning with the local utility companies to help avoid costly open cuts after a road is newly paved.
In 2016, Neel-Schaffer helped the City identify 92 roads for paving, with funding through a $5 million bond issue. That project was completed in the summer of 2017, and came in under budget. Neel-Schaffer then identified more streets for paving, and those were completed in the fall of 2017.
The streets that were not paved in 2017 were assessed and were prioritized as the City prepares its paving list for 2020-21 and beyond. On average, roads are paved in two-year cycles, depending on available funding. The latest rounds (2014-15, and 2016-17) were the most aggressive the City has pursued while working with Neel-Schaffer, each time passing $5 million bonds, and in 2020 the City passed a $6.5 million bond, with $5.5 million targeted for paving in 2021.