Sonner steers BG road projects PDF Print E-mail
Written by HAROLD BROWN Sentinel City Editor   
Saturday, 05 January 2013 08:45
Troy Sonner, city engineer for Bowling Green, stands along Wintergarden Road, a recently completed project. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Timing may be everything in Bowling Green City Engineer Troy Sonner's office.
There's a long list of street and utility projects, timed out over a number of years that have to be planned to the smallest detail.
It's carrying out those details that often creates the most frequent calls from citizens, even if the project isn't under direct control of the city.
Sonner points out the Ohio Department of Transportation is in charge of the North Main Street widening project but understands why many residents call the city with their concerns.
"We've fielded a number of calls," Sonner said.
One caller went so far as to provide a detailed list of times they had waited at various traffic lights, wondering why the signals were not synchronized, he said.
"It's a matter of getting all of the signals and controllers installed and then synchronizing the timing program," Sonner said.
With most of the orange barrels gone, Sonner suspects many people may not realize there's a lot of detail work to be completed. Traffic signal supports remain to be installed, along with lighted street signs. Grading, seeding and related work will probably wait until spring. 
Later this year Sonner said the ODOT will be working to upgrade other traffic signals in the city, including all seven signaled intersections on East Wooster Street from Manville-Thurstin to Dunbridge Road. The upgrades include battery backup to keep signals working during power outages.
The city hired Sonner from the private sector when Brian O'Connell was promoted to BG's director of utilities.
"We knew what he knew. He had been around town 20 years with a local design firm (Poggemeyer Design Group). He knew the subdivisions, he knew the projects and what we do," said Director of Public Works Brian Craft. "He was here for the Heritage 2000 (downtown) project and the East Wooster project. He was ahead of the curve, knew the people on the planning commission and the people on council."
In contrast to 2012, Sonner said this year will find the city involved in a number of smaller utility projects. There is only $160,000 in the budget for street projects, in contrast to more than $300,000 that was spent on South Wintergarden Road last year. "If that (funding level) keeps up for a period of time it makes it difficult to keep the streets properly maintained," Sonner said.
The city is financing much of its share of the North Main project by issuing a bond that will be paid off over a number of years.
The engineering office also has a civil engineer, a surveyor, survey technician and two project inspectors who not only keep an eye on most city projects but have to keep track of work done by Columbia Gas contractors and other private projects. An engineering technician post is open due to a recent retirement and will be filled, Sonner said.
"The highest priority this year is the new elevated water tower on the north side of town. We have to pick a site and are seeking FAA approval because of the proximity of the airport," Sonner said. The 1.5 million gallon tower is the same size as ones built in the 1980s at Carter Park and on Mitchell Road. "Work should start this summer and be finished in 2014. Because it is a speciality project the city has hired Poggemeyer. It (the tower) is not something we design often like water and sewer lines. It's more economical to hire that work out," Sonner said.
Craft said one of the things the city emphasized when Sonner was hired was that he might have dealings with his former employer and the need to maintain a professional relationship.
"When the new tower is finished the towers on Manville Avenue and Haskins Road will be dismantled," Sonner said.
Late 2014 should see reconstruction of the Haskins-Poe intersection. Sonner said that although money for the project will be available early in the construction season, the city will wait until after the Wood County Fair and National Tractor Pulling Championships to do the work. "We had the same timing issue with the North Main project. The contract specifically called for the intersection of Poe and Main to be open for those two events."
Craft said a roundabout was considered for the Haskins-Poe intersection but ruled out largely because of estimated land acquisition costs.
Other big projects in various stages of planning are resurfacing West Poe Road from just west of Main Street to Mitchell Road in 2015; rebuilding the South Main Street-Gypsy Lane Road intersection in 2016; paving Napoleon Road from Main to South College in 2017 and paving Manville Avenue from Wooster to Napoleon in 2018.
Sonner said all of the projects have some funding provided through the state's Transportation Improvement Plan fund.
"There's a lot of work to do here. It's not that things are in disrepair but there are projects that need to be done. It's nice to be involved in design and construction and to see the results," Sonner said.
Last Updated on Saturday, 05 January 2013 09:09

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