MACEDONIA: After nearly a decade of continuous infrastructure improvement — every main thoroughfare in the city has seen significant work — Macedonia motorists would understandably be tired of orange construction barrels and detour signs.
But brace yourselves: The road crews will be back this summer to begin one final push.
As part of a $60 million Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) project to widen Interstate 271, an expressway ramp will be relocated and portions of East Aurora Road and South Freeway Drive will grow a lane.
In addition, the city has plans this year and next to resurface, rebuild or add curbs and storm sewers to other portions of Aurora Road.
“It’s a pain,” Mayor Don Kuchta acknowledged on behalf of construction-weary travelers, but he’s thrilled that some traffic problems on Aurora Road will be alleviated.
Also, the state is picking up almost all of the cost of the projects related to I-271, and the city will get to collect income tax from the crews for the duration of the nearly three-year project, he said.
“Talk about getting your cake and eating it, too,” Kuchta said.
This month, about 30 people attended an ODOT informational meeting to hear more about the I-271 project, which will begin this summer with the building of a new northbound ramp.
The existing access from Aurora Road (state Route 82) has been a headache for the city, Kuchta said.
Motorists headed east on Aurora used to be able to turn left to reach the ramp, but first had to pass two lanes of oncoming traffic on a very busy street.
“It was a Hail Mary left turn,” Kuchta said.
After 27 accidents in a two-year period, the city put up a barrier to stop the left turns and hoped folks would get used to driving to state Route 8 near Highland Road in order to catch the city’s other northbound ramp.
“But 18 months later, they still refuse to use that ramp,” Kuchta said.
Instead, many motorists eastbound on Aurora simply continue to the traffic light at Freeway Drive, turn left and cut through business parking lots in order to get back onto Aurora facing west, where they can reach the ramp.
ODOT’s solution is to close the existing ramp altogether, then open a new one off Freeway Drive.
The access would go through property that currently contains an old house being rented as office space to the Nordonia Hills Chamber of Commerce and a couple of other businesses.
The city will be responsible for acquiring the right-of-ways for the project, and Kuchta noted that the property was already up for sale.
In addition to the new ramp, ODOT will add a center turning lane for a quarter-mile of Freeway Drive, and a dedicated left turning lane on East Aurora Road from Macedonia Commons to the Norfolk Southern tracks.
Widening that portion of Aurora Road would have been impossible before now because two I-271 bridges cross it.
But ODOT’s plans to widen I-271 from four to six lanes means new bridges will have to be built over Aurora Road, as well as over Ledge Road.
Kuchta said ODOT offered to increase the span of the bridges to allow for a wider Aurora Road, footing the bill for the bridges and the expanded road beneath.
The city’s only share of the cost is in obtaining the right-of-ways for slivers of land along Freeway and Aurora, as well as for the new ramp, Kuchta said. He estimated that would be less than $500,000.
The ramp could be completed by the end of the year, but the road widening phases could last well into 2016, ODOT spokesman Brent Kovacs said.
Meanwhile, other parts of Aurora Road will be spruced up as well.
The portion of the road from Macedonia Commons west to the city limits is scheduled to be resurfaced this year.
Then next year, the city will be rebuilding the road from an area near Shepard Road to the eastern city limits, adding curbs and storm sewers.
“The city was full of bottlenecks,” Kuchta said, thinking back on all of the major road projects — which included the building of two bridges — during his administration. “What’s good about being in a great location if you can’t get in or out? Now we have become a destination city.”