The Village of Woodmere began right of way acquisition for 10 properties along Chagrin Boulevard, the first step in a $4.6 million project to widen the thoroughfare. The strip of this road in Woodmere guides drivers to more than 300 businesses in the village and is adjacent to Interstate 271. Chagrin is a main road funneling cars into the Chagrin Valley.

Widening the road will add one westbound lane between East Brainard Road and Orange Place Drive. The project is slated for construction to begin in 2024. The Ohio Department of Transportation will contribute $2.7 million and the remaining $1.9 million is from an Ohio Public Works Commission grant.

“We’re seeing the wheels starting to turn and there’s progress being made,” Village Engineer Ed Hren of Chagrin Valley Engineering said. He invited Beth Fulton, a partner at the engineering firm and ODOT project manager, to speak at the village’s Utilities Committee meeting on Jan. 11.

Ms. Fulton said there are agreements in place with KMJM Land Services, LLC and Smith and Nejedlik, Inc. KMJM will do the bulk of the acquisition work and Smith and Nejedlik will do the appraisal reviews. There is a “checks and balances” system in place so the firm that does the appraisals cannot also do the appraisal reviews.

“There are 10 parcels that need to have some sort of acquisition performed, whether it’s permanent, temporary or both,” Ms. Fulton said. “The first thing they are doing is the title research and they have a deadline of Jan. 31.”

Once the appraisals are underway, they should be completed by the end of March. The information is compiled into offers and there will be negotiations with the property owners. If they cannot reach an agreement, the parties would move into appropriation and retain outside legal counsel.

“The reason we expedited the right of way acquisition process is because we need to relocate an AT&T duct bank that is currently under the sidewalk,” Ms. Fulton explained. “It needs to be relocated further to the north in what will be the newly acquired right of way.”

Mr. Hren said there have been talks of widening Chagrin since the 1960s.

“When I started working here for another firm in 1989, there was a five lane plan that was prepared, submitted to ODOT and then rejected by the council at the time. I’m not saying that was a bad thing. It really would have devastated us from a parking perspective,” Mr. Hren said.

“After that was rejected, we started securing money, probably with studies, that led to other studies, that led to grant applications. It really has been a 20 year process to get us to the point where it’s fully funded and we have the right of way actually being acquired at this point,” he continued.

Ms. Fulton will continue attending monthly utilities committee meetings to give updates on the Chagrin widening.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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