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2018 could end the pain on Route 4. What else will happen in Fairfield this year?

Fairfield commuters will once again need to navigate road construction along Ohio 4 this year, but this should be the last year for major work along that stretch for some time, city officials say.

In 2017, a two-mile stretch of Ohio 4 was under construction to replace a cast iron water main that was prone to breaks. That was one of the city’s most critical projects last year as a disproportionate number of the city’s nearly 200 water main breaks occurred on Ohio 4.It was a maintenance project that was overdue, said Fairfield Mayor Steve Miller.

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“With Public Works and Public Utilities, when the recession happened in ‘08, we got a little behind with some of our deferred maintenance, and some of our other projects,” he said. “We have a very ambitious budget to really start moving Fairfield forward. We want to get ahead of the curve, and get away from any kind of deferred maintenance.”

Here are other projects that will be a big part of 2018 in Fairfield:

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Road projects

This summer, a 4.5-mile stretch of Ohio 4 — from Seward Road to the northern corporation line with Hamilton — will be re-paved at an estimated cost of $3.8 million.

“Motorists have put up with a lot of Route 4 with all the construction over the last few years, and it’s rough out there now, so once we pave that it will be good for 12, 14 years,” said Public Works Director Dave Butsch.

Including the major paving project, there are several concrete, overlay, road widening and sidewalk projects scheduled for this year that total around $8.5 million.

Another big project for the city is its traffic signal project. The city received a $2.3 million grant from OKI for a $2.8 million project traffic signal project, which will cover mostly maintenance items, said City Engineer Ben Mann. This project will build upon the 2010 overhaul of the city’s traffic signals.

“It’s more video detection, it’s some radar detection, it’s replacing a lot of hardware, it’s upgrading our pedestrian signals and upgrading our illuminated signs to LED (lights),” Mann said.

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It also includes upgrading the downtown pedestrian signals to audible signals, which are likely to be required in the future, Mann said.

“Our thought process there is we have retirement homes, we have the senior housing on Patterson Boulevard, you have older communities that might walk to the Community Art Center or the library,” he said. “They’re ADA complaint, so that’s also good for an aging population.”

Another major road project will involve widening North Gilmore Road from Holden Boulevard to Symmes Road, where the road will go from two to three lanes from Holden to Busway Lane with a right turn lane into the new Fairfield Freshman School. The road will remain two lanes from Busway to Symmes, but the shoulders will be widened.

The city school district has contributed $300,000 to that $1.6 million project.

Other projects this year include the annual sidewalk repair program and concrete work in the Shearwater Drive neighborhood.

Water and sewer projects

There are only about $3 million in water and sewer projects planned for 2018, which Public Utilities Director Adam Sackenheim said is a quieter year for his department.

“We’re not going to be as aggressive in ‘18 as we were in 2017, but we’re going to spend about $1 million on the sewer side and $2 million on the water side,” he said.

There will be a complete upgrade of the Homeward Way pumping station near Production Avenue, which is needed because of the new Compass Elementary School off Holden Boulevard. That project is estimated to cost $250,000.

“With the additional school out there, all of that flow goes to that lift station,” Sackenheim said. “It’s 40-plus years old, and we want to make sure we can pump and move all the sewer flows as necessary.”

Three pieces of the Ohio 4 sewer project will also be finished before that road is re-paved. At Symmes, Hicks and Winton roads, the east-west water mains will need to be replaced at those intersections this spring. That will cost the city about $180,000.

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Sackenheim said the city would be able to get rid of 1960s area cast iron pipe “that’s known to fail.”

About 2,000 feet of that cast iron pipe will be removed on Donald Drive from Industry Drive to Busway Lane.

The biggest expenditure for 2018 will fund a complete rehabilitation of the 1.5 million gallon Winton Road water tower, which includes cleaning and repainting the tank inside and out. That’s expected to cost $750,000.

Parks projects

Fairfield Parks and Recreation Director Jim Bell said there likely wouldn’t be a lot of dirt pushed in 2018 for parks projects, but there will be a lot of planning.

And the biggest pushes for improvements will be Marsh and Harbin parks. These two parks will be redeveloped and transformed in coming years, but the only noticeable work this year will be done on paper, Bell said.

“We’ll be pushing heavy on the bike path, and how we push the path to the common border with Hamilton County,” Bell said. “There will be projects coming out of the ground, and there will be a lot of planning. I think (in) ‘19 you’ll see a lot more construction.”

The city will be establishing a long-awaited dog park on part of the land known as Black Bottom across the street from Marsh Park. There will be an update on the dog park project at the Feb. 26 council-manager briefing as the final construction plans are nearing completion.

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Bike paths will connect the dog park and the rest of the Black Bottom area with Marsh Park, and plans for what will happen with the park will be the topic of discussion for much of 2018.

“That’s such a large, multi-faceted project,” said Bell.

The city is also seeking $250,000 from the state in its capital budget projects bill to purchase vacant land. It would help expand recreational opportunities for the region as the Great Miami River Trail is expanded.

As for Harbin Park, City Council has approved an application for the Federal Highway Administration Recreation Trails Program grant for a perimeter trail around Harbin Park.

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