By DENISE GRANT
If Findlay decides to upgrade Blanchard Street without changing the lane configuration at all, the Ohio Department of Transportation will eliminate state grant money for the project.
However, ODOT would be willing to pay about $935,930 if designated, shared bicycle-motorist lanes are created on the four-lane street.
Findlay officials began exploring options on the project after a plan to add bicycle lanes, and reduce part of the street to three lanes for motorists, met with public opposition earlier this year.
Findlay Service Director Brian Thomas released details of the state options on Friday. City Council’s Appropriations Committee is expected to discuss the options at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Findlay Municipal Building, 318 Dorney Plaza.
All of the options are available for public review on the City of Findlay’s “Community Input” website at www.findlayohio.com.
As first proposed, ODOT was willing to pay most of the bill for Blanchard and Lincoln Street improvements, with grants totaling $2.5 million, leaving a local share of only $238,153.
A $1.25 million grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation would pay for new bike paths on Lincoln and Blanchard streets, and an additional $1.25 million safety grant from ODOT would reconfigure Blanchard Street with the goal of making it safer.
As first proposed, a shared-use path would replace the sidewalk on the north side of Lincoln Street, from South Cory to Blanchard streets.
On Blanchard Street, the northbound and southbound curb lanes from Sixth Street to Center Street would be converted into 5-foot-wide bike lanes. This part of Blanchard Street would be reduced to a three-lane road for motorists: one northbound lane, one southbound lane and a center turn lane.
However, the City of Findlay received 205 public comments on the proposed projects. A total of 116 comments were received in opposition to the Blanchard Street project, with most writers saying the proposed bike lanes are not needed, will be unsafe, or will make traffic congestion on Blanchard Street worse.
All the letters are available for public review on the city’s website at www.findlayohio.com. Most of the names have been redacted.
According to information released by Thomas on Friday, ODOT is willing to contribute to the construction of a three-lane Blanchard Street, without bicycle lanes, with a grant of about $1.4 million and a local share of $1.3 million.
Reconfiguring the Blanchard Street lanes, but marking the outside lanes as shared bicycle-motorist lanes, with no dedicated bicycle lanes, would make the city eligible for about $1.7 million in grant money, with a local share of $1 million.
Should the city decide to just reconfigure Blanchard Street lanes at intersections only, ODOT would contribute about $1.4 million to that plan. That would again make the local share about $1.3 million.
Reconfiguring the lanes at the intersections, with designated, shared bicycle-motorist lanes, would also garner state support of about $1.6 million.