FREDERICKTOWN -- The Village of Fredericktown has received an additional $470,000 from the Ohio Department of Transportation to renovate its downtown streetscape.
It's the second installment of an approximately $1 million total grant for the renovations.
Fredericktown received its first grant installment in the amount of $922,000 in 2019, prior to its most recent installment in May.
The grant is provided through ODT’s Transportation Alternatives Program, which funds projects that improve non-driver access to public transportation and community improvement activities.
Construction is slated to begin in 2023, village administrator Bruce Snell said.
TAP funds will be used to improve pedestrian safety in Fredericktown, such as through widening sidewalks and driving lanes, Snell said.
The diagonal parking in Fredericktown will be changed to parallel parking through the project, creating the width needed for street and sidewalk widening.
“Change is always hard, but it’s for public safety,” Snell said. “It will be easier for people to get out without any blind spots.”
The larger sidewalks are also intended to provide more space for outdoor dining, Snell said. The village intends for shops to remain open during construction in 2023, he said.
Additional changes will include replacing traffic signals and street lights, said Jason Burgholder, transportation services manager of the village's contracted engineering firm, K.E. McCartney & Associates of Mansfield.
Although the construction start date is years out, Burgholder foresees some challenges with the project.
"Some of the old buildings there actually have coal vaults that extend out underneath the sidewalks," he said, explaining that the presence of these vaults — hatches in the pavement formerly used for outdoor coal storage — will leave holes in the ground when the sidewalks are removed and will have to be filled.
While the changes set to be made through ODT’s grant will not begin for a few years, the Knox County Foundation began separate revitalization efforts in line with the streetscape project last month, including building a plaza, splash pad (an outdoor play area with sprinklers and fountains) and heated public restroom on the west side of Main Street, KCF President Jeffery Scott said.
While the village and county foundation’s projects are funded separately, the village and foundation have been working together to ensure continuity of the projects, Scott said. Scott said that the sidewalks and lighting being installed on the stretch of property currently under renovation follow the larger streetscape plans.
Both Scott and Snell intend for the streetscape renovations to spur economic development and improve quality of life in Fredericktown, they said.