The Richland Passageway Project, which added a bridge and pedestrian passageway to Richland Avenue, was finished in October after five years of planning and construction.

The project had been in the works since 2015 and was finally finished earlier this month. The pedestrian passageway has been open for use, and the vehicle bridge was opened for use earlier this week.

This project replaced the original at-grade crossing on Richland Avenue near Grover Center and Porter Hall. On average, there are 9,800 vehicles that use this street, which is about one-third of the population of the City of Athens. There were 6,500 pedestrians who used the crosswalk on the avenue daily as well, and there could be as many as 600 pedestrians using the crosswalk during peak hours, a joint press release from the city and Ohio University said.

“The passageway is an example of how the Athens and Ohio University communities are able to partner and leverage local resources with state and federal resources and complete a project that protects the health, safety, and welfare of the traveling public,” according to the press release.

The project is in the same general location as the original crosswalk that connects West Green Drive to Bobcat Lane. There was an intersection reconfiguration to allow traffic on Bobcat Lane to turn left onto Richland Avenue. There was an aesthetic barrier included on both the left and right side of Richland Avenue in order to protect them from vehicles, and there is a new bus stop pull off on Richland Avenue included in this project as well, according to the press release.

Additionally, there was aesthetic lighting installed in the pedestrian passageway. 

This project could have a positive impact on pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles. There was aesthetic lighting installed in the pedestrian passageway, according to the release. 

The pedestrian passageway built on the Oxbow Bridge Project that was started in 2013. The project designer followed state and federal design recommendations to ensure that the sidewalk slopes were designed correctly in order for this project to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Jessica Adine, the project manager, said in an email.

The construction project ended up costing $3.2 million. The project was funded through many sources including local city funds, OU funds and a $2 million grant through the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Transportation Alternatives Program, Adine said in the email.

OU’s contribution to the Richland construction was $646,783. From the university’s perspective, the project proceeded as expected with no significant changes, Jon Cozad, executive director for design and construction, said in an email.

A few problems arose with this project, including a few utility-related issues that came up. The work area was very restricted, so the contractor had to carefully coordinate their work with the subtractor’s work, Cozad said in an email.

The contractor was able to continue to work through the spring under the state guidance that transportation projects were considered critical and allowed to continue with the threat of COVID-19. The contractor had to observe additional safety measures, which may have added some time they were working each day. For a period during the spring, there was also difficulty in material delivery and, therefore, required additional coordination, Cozad said in an email.