County Road Projects Get Money, Time Boost From Turnpike
Article from the Chronicle-Telegram
July 25, 2013
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The reconstruction of the Interstate 90/state Route 57 interchange in Elyria and the widening of Center Ridge Road in North Ridgeville are among 27 northern Ohio road projects expected to begin years ahead of schedule thanks to a projected $3 billion in revenue to be generated from the sale of bonds backed by future toll revenue from the Ohio Turnpike. 

Improvements to the Interstate 90/state Route 57 interchange, which include demolition of the 49th Street Bridge, are slated to begin in 2014 under the plan announced by Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Department of Transportation on Monday.

The widening of a 2.3-mile stretch of Center Ridge Road through North Ridgeville will be moved up to 2017, although Mayor David Gillock said the city is actually looking to bid the project in the fall of 2015 and begin construction in 2016.

Before the proposal to generate bonds backed by Turnpike revenue was floated, tinkered with and finally approved, neither project was slated to start before 2027.

Kasich’s recommendations are slated to be voted on Thursday by the Transportation Review Advisory Council, an agency that guides the state in review and approval of ODOT’s biggest projects.

State Sen. Gayle Manning, R-North Ridgeville, said she expects TRAC to OK the governor’s recommendations.

“This is very good news for our area,” Manning said. “We’re finally moving ahead with projects that were put on hold for years.”

Manning, who chairs the Ohio Senate’s Transportation Committee, successfully lobbied for a key amendment in the state’s massive two-year transportation bill that ensures 90 percent of money raised via the sale of Turnpike bonds will be spent on roadwork within 75 miles of the toll road.

Manning said the stipulation was warranted since the bulk of Turnpike tolls are paid by area motorists. Kasich had pledged to ensure much of the money would be spent upstate, but he did not push for it to be in the bill about the bond sale.

“We wanted it in writing,” Manning said. “I guess we’re a skeptical group up here.”

Gillock and Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda each testified before the Senate Transportation Committee about the importance of a Turnpike bond sale to their projects, Manning said.

Both are seen as major steps toward reducing traffic crashes in each city.

“We worked hard to move this project up from Phase 2 to Phase 1,” Brinda said. “Without that, it likely would not have happened until 2027.”

The project has many benefits, according to Brinda.

“It ended up ranking so high not only because of its impact on safety, but its overall impact on the community and economic development,” Brinda said, adding that there are 140-plus acres of undeveloped property near the project site. “That alone makes it a very attractive project.”

Projected to cost $28.8 million, the Elyria project will see the demolition of the 49th Street Bridge over state Route 57.

“This project will remedy a high crash zone by modifying the existing I-90 and state Route 57 intersection,” Brinda said. “This will be the biggest infrastructure project seen in Elyria and Lorain County in a long time.”

The Center Ridge widening, estimated to cost $48.7 million, will increase the number of lanes from three to five between Stoney Ridge and Lear Nagle roads.

More than 300 collisions occurred from 2007 through 2009 in that stretch of road.

The $48.7 million cost cited by ODOT is several million over the city’s $41.5 million projection, but Gillock said anticipated costs of buying needed land keep rising. Money also will be spent to relocate a number of small businesses, Gillock said.

The transportation bill also is expected to create 65,000 new jobs.

“We’ve been told that number is pretty conservative, so it could go higher,” Manning said. 

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