Solon City officials are continuing to take steps associated with the first phase of the $5.6 million Aurora Road reconstruction, a project slated to begin in 2022.
Last week, City Council’s Public Works Committee approved forwarding legislation to City Council authorizing the engineering department to negotiate fee proposals with the two most qualified real estate consultants for the right of way acquisition associated with the project.
City Council added its approval Monday.
The infringement on residential properties will not be significant, City Engineer John J. Busch noted, but instead just primarily be for grading.
“We are not acquiring a lot of permanent right of way,” he said. “By and large throughout the main course of the project, we are just acquiring temporary right of way from residents just to do grading beyond the right of way.”
Those residents will be compensated accordingly, he continued, and the amount will be part of the right-of-way acquisition process.
The project, which will construct the road from just east of the Solon Village Shopping Plaza to the Liberty Road intersection, will affect about 80 parcels, all of which are residential. “These properties are not very big,” Mr. Busch said.
He said the amount of right of way needed will vary from property to property. “Generally, Aurora Road is, for the most part, pretty flat so it will not be that intrusive.”
Mr. Busch said that the funds for the right of way purchases are budgeted in this year’s infrastructure fund.
In other updates, Mr. Busch said that design plans are under way for the first phase of the project. GPD, the city’s traffic engineering firm and the consultant on the project, is being paid $615,457 for the design fee.
The reconstruction will include widening Aurora Road from two lanes to three lanes, replacement of the waterline, storm sewer improvements, installation of a permanent traffic signal at the Aurora/Portz intersection, installation of a dedicated southbound right turn lane on Liberty Road at Aurora Road, installation of a multipurpose path on the south side of Aurora Road, an integral bike lane on the north side of the road and sidewalks.
To date, the city has been awarded $2.1 million in funding, including Ohio Department of Transportation dollars and federal safety money.
With the federal grant money that the city received for the project, the right of way acquisition process requires that the city hire two real estate consultants for professional services utilizing the qualification based election process. The first consultant will be hired to appraise and acquire the necessary permanent and temporary right of way and the second consultant will be hired to provide an independent appraisal review.
The second phase of the project will involve the reconstruction of Aurora Road from Liberty Road to the eastern corporation line at Bainbridge Township.
The project is based on three traffic studies performed along the corridor where the number of rear-end collisions have increased over the years, Mr. Busch said. It is also necessary to improve access in and out of residential homes along the road and developments such as Carrington Court and neighborhoods like Ayleshire Drive.
“The city studied this three times, and every time the outcome was to widen the road based on the traffic impacts to five lanes,” he said. City Council rejected that option so as not to infringe on residential properties to that extent. The widening to three lanes is a “compromise,” Mr. Busch said.
“This is a project people are looking forward to,” Councilwoman Nancy E. Meany said. “It’s needed, but it’s not going to be fun. I’m glad we are moving forward.”
Like with all other major projects, Mr. Busch said, they are not pleasant when going through them in terms of the traffic impact, but once it’s finished, the benefits are made clear. He used as an example the recent intersection improvement at SOM Center and Aurora roads.
“Traffic is much smoother in that area,” Mrs. Meany noted.