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Underground electric utility lines bring out orange barrels on Lane Avenue

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Construction on West Lane Avenue between Riverside Drive and Northwest Boulevard might frustrate drivers, but businesses are not worried.

On Monday, American Electric Power began digging underground electric utility lines, restricting traffic to two lanes, said Bob Darragh, resident project representative at CT Consultants. Darragh, who oversees the project as it traverses Upper Arlington, said the project will continue to move eastward until reaching Ohio State.

“It’s a connection from one AEP substation to a substation that is north of the new (OSU Medical Center) project,” Darragh said.

Phase one of the project started just west of Northwest Boulevard, Darragh said, and will continue west to Riverside Drive, likely lasting through the end of May. Phase two will then begin, starting at Northwest Boulevard and heading east to North Star Road.

After phase two is completed — Darragh said hopefully in June — the project moves into the jurisdiction of the City of Columbus, and out of his hands.

“The City of Columbus apparently will make arrangements for inspection of the roadway during the reapportionment of the project,” Darragh said.

The lines will run under the southern-most lane on West Lane Avenue, and both eastbound lanes will be closed, Darragh said.

But some businesses are not fretting the orange barrels.

Keith Sloane is a store director at Graeter’s Ice Cream at 1534 W. Lane Ave. He said past projects, like the summertime gutting of state Route 315 last year, had little effect on business.

“We have a pretty established base in the neighborhood,” Sloane said. “People will find a way to get here.”

A little further west, at Schwarz Sunoco, owner Rick Schwarz said he has yet to notice any effect on business. As the construction moves eastward, he said that may change.

“I suppose once they come through the intersection, it will probably be a big problem,” he said.

Schwarz Sunoco, at 1800 W. Lane Ave., is on the north side of the street, a fact Schwarz said will help his business.

“I imagine that it impacts the other side of the street a lot more than it impacts us,” Schwarz said.

Whole Foods Market, located at 1555 W. Lane Ave., might be unlucky in Schwarz’s eyes, but marketing team leader Mandy Moore said she isn’t expecting any adverse affects. Like Sloane, she cited the 315 construction as precedent.

“We experienced the same construction restrictions then, and we didn’t see any variations in sales,” Moore said. “So we’re not really anticipating anything at this time.”

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