AUBURN — A portion of Stafford Road, which once saw horse and buggy traffic, is expected to get some major upgrades. The township is seeking an Ohio Public Works Commission grant of $300,000 for the project.

It was a dirt road for so many years, and over time people drove around the wet spots and the road has moved as much as 10 feet off its center, according to Auburn Trustee John Eberly. It was one of the original township roads, used in the early 1800s as a wagon path.

In addition to residential traffic, the section of the road now also gets heavy use by trucks going to the Munn Road industrial area in Auburn. It has been identified as being in need of work for more than four years.

Auburn Road Superintendent Emerick Gordon said it is a chip seal road now and the intent is to convert it to asphalt.

The section of road to be worked on is between Ravenna Road (Route 44) and Messenger Road. The roadway runs east and west in Bainbridge, Auburn and in Troy townships, terminating at Rapids Road. Auburn has already improved its section of the road between the Bainbridge line and Messenger Road.

Mr. Gordon said the project of about 1 mile of roadway is expected to be a $900,000 project. A survey of the road right of way is going to be done by the Geauga County Engineer’s Office. The width is narrow in spots and the drainage infrastructure needs to be improved, he said.

“We’ve had complaints from residents about the road being too narrow,” Mr. Eberly said. There are sections of the road as narrow as 18 feet wide, he explained, adding that the ideal width should be 22 feet wide.

Depending on the Geauga County Engineer’s Office design and plan, the shelf or what the road sits on, could be from 24 feet to 26 feet wide, according to Mr. Emerick.

Some of the older houses on the south side of the road currently are close to the edge of the road right of way, Mr. Emerick said.

The first step is an engineering survey. The Geauga County Engineer has been asked to do the work and to see how the road improvements will impact the residents’ frontage.

“We are looking at the road and studying GIS pictures. We have looked at areas of potential issues to see what can be done,” Mr. Eberly said.

“We can’t just fix it. There is a lot of engineering involved,” he said. They will also be looking at how many yards of earth have to be moved because of hills in a couple of areas in order to widen it.

Mr. Eberly noted the township cannot do the project without the grant funding,” he said. “It’s too big a project.” He will serve as CEO of the project while Geauga County Deputy Engineer Nick Gorris will be project manager.

The township upgraded the west end of Stafford from Auburn Road to Munn Road four years ago with the Ohio Publics Works Commission money, or Issue 1 funding. Trees had to be removed along the right of way and there was widening and realignment of the road.

Letters will be sent to residents that the project in being planned, according to Mr. Eberly. Once the survey is completed by the county engineer’s office, and letters sent, “we will meet and talk with each resident,” he said. Every effort is being made to create as little impact as possible.

The funding is planned for 2020, and tree removal is expected in 2020 with construction in 2021, Mr. Gordon said.

Mr. Eberly said the township has a lot of other work in the plans. And those road plans are invaluable to Mr. Gordon.

Auburn has 54 miles of roads to maintain, and the township has a rating system for the roads. An acceptable surface is in the 4-to-7 rating category. About 93 percent of the roads are in that category, “And that’s pretty good for a township,” Mr. Eberly said.

In the old days, prior to the Environmental Protection Agency, the asphalt lasted 20 to 25 years. The new emulsions, made better for the environment, only last 12 to 15 years, township officials said.

The township has subdivisions in which they have been able to keep the roads going for 22 years. “We do crack seal and maintenance ditching every year,” Mr. Eberly said.

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