Franklin will be a work in progress for the next few years

Long list of projects include schools, streets, bike paths, water infrastructure, highway beautification

Starting in January and running until October 2025, residents and passers-by will need to get used to a lot of orange barrels and other inconveniences that will be a constant throughout Franklin as the city moves forward with its capital improvement program.

As demolition begins on the former Franklin Junior High School and construction begins on the new Franklin High School, city officials have five areas of focus for some major capital improvements that include partnerships with the city of Springboro and the Franklin City School District.

One of the largest projects being planned is the new Franklin High School on East Sixth Street, which is part of a multi-year $130 million building project. Franklin City Schools said once the new high school is completed and open in the fall of 2023, the current high school building on East Fourth Street will be renovated and become the new middle school, opening in fall 2025. The school district is planning to construct three new elementary schools at the current Gerke, Schenck and Hunter sites.

The Franklin Board of Education recently purchased property adjacent to the junior high school on East Sixth Street as part of the new high school project. The property borders East Sixth, Anderson and Seventh streets and the cost was $1.6 million from its permanent improvement fund.

City Manager Jonathan Westendorf presented a timeline of a number of capital improvement projects that will be coordinated with the school construction as well as tying in various infrastructure projects to other plans to renovate downtown Franklin.

Westendorf said there are five areas that will see projects from Jan. 1 through late 2025 and that much of it will be infrastructure to prepare the city for future development. Those areas include South Main Street, Ohio 123 west of Interstate 75, Ohio 123 east of I-75, Ohio 73, and some other miscellaneous projects. He said the projects will be overlapping in order to spread out construction and the load on staff executing the projects.

Last year, Westendorf unveiled a proposal to develop a riverfront park and other downtown improvements, including streetscape projects and returning Main Street back to a two-way street. Discussions are continuing on the proposal but before anything can start downtown, the 80-year-old water and sewer infrastructure needs to be replaced, he said. Westendorf said the project is now in the design phase.

“We still have a lot of planning to do to get this right,” Westendorf said. “It’s going to be a lot of work, but we’re trudging along.”

City Engineer Barry Conway said the water line and relining the sewer line project will cost about $600,000. Westendorf said construction could begin in March with the project being completed in 2023. He said the design work to return Main Street to a two-way street begins in 2022, with construction starting in 2023.

“This will be a visible indication for developers that the city is moving forward on the project and is ready to go,” he said.

In addition to the new high school, other Ohio 123 projects west of I-75 include a new water main to the high school and a new standpipe for water capacity and pressure that will be built at Franklin Community Park. The estimated cost of the project is $1 million, and the new standpipe will replace the out-of-service standpipe on Third Street.

The other large project planned near the new high school will be a $2.1 million roundabout on Ohio 123 at Community Park and the high school entrances. The roundabout and water main/standpipe projects are to begin in January 2023. The water main project should be completed as the new high school opens and the roundabout should open in July 2024, according to the timeline presented by Westendorf.

Projects on Ohio 123 east of I-75 will see construction start in July 2022 as construction of the William C. Good Boulevard extension to Scholl Road begins. Conway said that project is expected to be completed in January 2023 and will cost about $1 million, with funds from Warren County and the city’s allocation of the county vehicle tax.

Conway said in January 2023, a project will begin to align Beal Road and Shotwell Drive, constructing a bridge and adding traffic signals. The $2.6 million project is tentatively slated for completion in April 2024.

A two-phase beautification project with the city of Springboro will begin in July 2022 along the Ohio 73 interchange of I-75. Officials said phasing was necessary to split up the costs of the project, which will be managed by the Warren County Transportation Improvement District.

The first phase is expected to be completed by January 2023 and will cost the city of Franklin about $129,000 and city of Springboro about $394,000. The second phase will begin in July 2024 with completion in October 2025. Franklin’s portion will be about $136,000, while Springboro’s will be about $608,000, according to Springboro city officials.

“We are starting ‘on the edges’ in the first phase due to a safety project upgrade that is occurring in 2023/2024,” said Springboro City Manager Chris Pozzuto. “The state is paying 100% of that (safety upgrade) project to widen state Route 73, add dual turn lanes west to Franklin and a few other upgrades.”

Pozzuto said this phase will not be in the way of the safety upgrades. From July 2023 to July 2024, the safety upgrades will be constructed and will also include a sidewalk from Franklin into Springboro near Thorntons.

“We are not putting anything in the “large bowl” area first because that is going to be the staging area for all the equipment for the safety project,” Pozzuto said.

Franklin is also planning to utilize $1.26 million in state urban paving funding to resurface Ohio 73 from Deardoff Road to River Street.

The city also has a few “miscellaneous projects” in the works that include:

  • The Clear Creek Bike Path will link Franklin Community Park with Hazel Wood Park via a 10-foot wide, 8,800-foot bike path that will go under I-75. The project, which will run along Clear Creek, has received $3 million in federal funding, Conway said. The project is expected to begin in July 2022 and be completed in July 2023.
  • Water lines on Millard Drive and Bryant Avenue will be upgraded to 8-inch lines. Another project will replace 5,000 feet of water line between Second and Fourth streets. Conway said the projects will cost $1 million each. Construction is planned to run from April to October 2023.
  • A joint project with Montgomery County will repair and replace the retaining wall along North Dixie Highway that was constructed in the early 1900s. Conway said the city’s corporation limits includes the Great Miami River south of the county line and that the majority of the project is in Franklin. The Great Miami River Recreation Trail runs below the retaining wall. He estimates the city’s cost will be about $1 million and that the city will be applying for Ohio Public Works Commission grants for the project. Conway said Montgomery County is taking the lead on the project.

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