By Scott Halasz
XENIA — Bicycle enthusiasts will soon have dedicated riding space in downtown Xenia.
In November city council approved a project, funded mostly by grant money, to add bike lanes along South Detroit Street, currently the only segment of the 80-mile Little Miami Scenic Trail that lacks dedicated bike facilities.
Concept plans have been revealed and when completed, protected bike lanes will be installed on South Detroit Street between Church and Third streets, giving bicyclists a safer place to ride. One southbound lane on Detroit will be eliminated, as will some on-street parking spots on the east side of Detroit.
The $1.47 million project, which requires a city contribution of just $120,000, will begin no later than August 2017 but could begin sooner, according to city officials.
“It’s a great opportunity this grant,” Xenia Planning Director Brian Forschner said. “It’s going to improve access.”
A 10-foot lane for two-way bike traffic will be marked, followed by a three-foot buffer, one seven-foot parking lane and the 12-foot thru lane. During afternoon rush hour, the parking lane will become another travel lane, Forschner said.
“This is also going to benefit any downtown business that wants to cater to any cyclists,” he said. “Make downtown more of a cycling destination.”
In addition to the dedicated bike lanes, the median on West Main Street will be expanded to protect the Creekside Trail crossing and the West/King signals will be eliminated, leaving just the nearby signal at Galloway and West Main streets. Also, the West Church/North Detroit intersection will be reconfigured to change the angle of approach for southbound right turns, while the Market/Detroit crossing will be moved to the south side of the intersection to make it safer. Finally, the Home/Detroit crossing will be moved to the Hill/Detroit intersection with a protective median and a new bike path directly connection the Ohio-to-Erie Trail to the bike hub.
“We’re also improving vehicular safety,” Forschner said.
Access to Detroit Boulevard from northbound Detroit Street will also be removed. Motorists will still be able to make the sharp right turn on to Detroit Boulevard from Church Street.
“That’ll really make this intersection safer for everybody,” Forschner said.
As part of the work, which is being managed by ODOT, North Detroit will be resurfaced, which needed to be done anyway, Forschner said. That resurfacing is also being paid for by the grant. The city will still spend it’s dedicated $500,000 on other city road improvements.
“We’re not touching the road funds,” Forschner said.
Plans for the improvements were first broached in June 2013, when council adopted X-Plan, which included a recommendation to study and improve pedestrian, cyclist and vehicular mobility and safety in downtown. In June 2014, a grant was awarded from the Ohio Department of Transportation to conduct a safety study and a month later a “walk audit” of the Detroit Street corridor was completed.
In October 2014, key recommendations and funding needs from the safety study were presented to council, which approved and authorized continued work on the project. This past February the city held an open house to allow the public to review the findings and in April council authorized the city to submit a grant application for design and construction. In August ODOT awarded $1.45 million with a $120,000 local match for design and construction. The 2016-2020 five-year capital improvement plan, which includes the local match funding, was approved by council.
The city is holding a public meeting regarding the bikeway 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18 at the Xenia library.