PORT CLINTON — A drive along Madison Street in Port Clinton reveals the downtown thoroughfare’s problems: crumbling sidewalks, scruffy curbs, and a wide girth that discourages pedestrian crossings.
But along that street, lined with businesses and restaurants, some in this Ottawa County city also see potential.
On Wednesday, the Ohio Department of Transportation announced an award of nearly $2.35 million in federal funds to help revamp two prime blocks of Madison Street from Third Street to Perry Street.
The total project, estimated to cost $3.5 million, will reconstruct the pavement, replace curbs, add decorative details, and widen the sidewalks by up to five feet on both sides of the street.
Stretching the sidewalks will make room for outdoor dining or gatherings, and a skinnier street will slow traffic, officials said. Street parking will remain.
Port Clinton Mayor Vincent Leone praised the project for its promise to enhance a downtown area that can be overshadowed by the city’s waterfront stretch.
“As you … stand on Perry Street and look north, it’s a beautiful lake and a beautiful river. It draws you there. As we turn around, it’s a little disappointing,” he said.
The city will provide funds and seek grants to pay for costs not covered by the grant, one of five awarded as part of ODOT’s Small City Program.
The program awards $8 million annually for road, safety, and signal projects in cities with populations between 5,000 and 24,999.
Nineteen applicants sought funding, and Port Clinton captured more than a quarter of this year’s funding, said Todd Audet, ODOT District 2 deputy director.
The Madison Street work also includes infrastructure upgrades such as new sanitary sewer and water lines and will take place in 2016.
Madison Street serves as an economic base, and the project benefits the entire city, said Mary Snyder, owner of Mary’s Blossom Shoppe, whose fragrant Madison Street storefront has been open for more than three decades.
“When you have a healthy downtown and a growing downtown and a vibrant downtown, then it’s a win-win situation for everybody — not only the tourists, but especially … the year-round residents,” she said.
Another downtown project, to refurbish a couple blocks of Second Street, received prior funding from the program. That work will start in May, 2015.
Sandusky County’s Clyde was awarded $391,600 for a culvert replacement project on U.S. 20 as part of this year’s Small City Program awards. Norwalk, in Huron County, was awarded $2 million for Milan Avenue work.