East Liverpool Awarded Nearly $30M for ‘Transformational Project’

EDITOR’S NOTE: The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Tuesday morning that the $29,712,043 grant has been awarded to East Liverpool.

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – Officials are awaiting confirmation that the city has been awarded nearly $30 million in federal infrastructure grant funding they say will mean a total remake of the city’s East End neighborhood.

In a press release, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced a $29,712,043 Rural Surface Transportation Grant had been awarded to the city through the U.S. Department of Transportation to complete construction of state Route 39 from Mulberry Street east to the Pennsylvania state line.

In the release, Brown wrote: “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is delivering for Ohio by fixing and rebuilding roads across Ohio, including state Route 39.”

Brown helped to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and advocated for the East Liverpool grant in the larger Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant Program, which administered the competition for Rural Surface Transportation Grants, according to his statement. 

As of Monday, city Planning Director Bill Cowan said that while he has seen the press release, he has received no official notification from the agency to which the city applied.

“Normally, we get an announcement and paperwork to send to City Council,” he said.

Until that paperwork is received, Cowan said some aspects of the grant project are unknown, including how much matching share the city will have to provide.

Cowan said City Council voted to hire Columbus engineering firm Korda/Nemeth Group to write the grant application, and he had sent the firm a copy of Brown’s press release.

Korda/Nemeth was also chosen for the project’s engineering and design work, according to Cowan, who said once confirmation is received, the matching share and a timeline for the project will be ascertained.

“We’ll have to go knocking on doors [for the matching share], but we won’t know that amount until after the first of the year,” he said.

Although he believed the application was actually for more than was awarded, Cowan said, “I’m still really happy for what we got.” 

The project will include removal and replacement of the existing pavement along state Route 39, a roundabout at the intersection of Parkway and Pennsylvania Avenue, lane widening and curve improvements, stormwater improvements, public utility improvements, curb ramps and bump-outs, on-street parking, tree lawns, street lighting and increased broadband.

“It will definitely be a transformational project. It’s huge,” Cowan said. “Just to show that investment in the East End of town pumps everyone up. Everyone who invests in their property feels better even when we just pave a street. It’s going to put a new face on East End.”

He said while no timeline has been determined yet, “iI will be three to four years easily, if not longer” to complete the extensive project. 

The main stretch of state Route 39 through East End will benefit from nearly $30 in federal grant funding for infrastructure.

As an East End resident, business owner and council member whose jurisdiction encompasses the entire project, Councilman Tom Beagle, 1st Ward, was excited to get a call early Saturday morning from Patrick Scafide, Community Improvement Corporation president, telling him the news.

“With the road the way it is, the uneven pavement, trucks shake your house,” Beagle said, referring to Route 39’s notably rough surface, which handles more than 10,000 vehicles daily, including heavy truck traffic

The project will also address the lack of curbing and storm drainage that leaves water nowhere to go, causing flooded streets and basements on a regular basis, Beagle said. “That alone will be big.”

Beagle said East End residents have traditionally welcomed a mix of residential, commercial and industrial properties. He believes this project will help to attract development and increase property values.

“This is really a game changer with everything that will take place underground. It’s hard to believe what can take place with what’s going to happen here,” Beagle said.

Having just been re-elected to a new term on City Council, Beagle said he hopes Mayor-elect Bobby Smith and his administration will aggressively support this project.

Smith said he is “thrilled to death” to learn the city is being awarded the grant, emphasizing his administration is looking forward to the funding being put to use in the East End.

With the Point of Beginning located at the tip of the infrastructure project, a bike trail proposed for the area, a new truck stop/gas station to be built along that stretch of state Route 39 and the many existing businesses – such as Quantix, which Smith said is the No. 2 hauler for the cracker plant in nearby Monaca, Pa. – the project will be a game changer for the East End. 

Mayor Greg Bricker did not return a call for comment. 

Pictured at top: The eastbound entrance to the East End neighborhood of East Liverpool as it currently looks.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.