WOODMERE — Construction on the widening of busy Chagrin Boulevard in the village could begin in 2021, village Engineer Ed Hren said.
Mr. Hren, who recently reviewed plans for the $3.9 million project, said that Woodmere likely would be responsible for between $150,000 and $250,000. The village needs to acquire property to add one westbound lane.
The Ohio Department of Transportation will cover $2.7 million of the project, which is funded through a Congressional transportation bill, Mr. Hren said. The Ohio Public Works Commission potentially will fund $1.2 million of the project, he said, explaining that the application has not been approved.
“I’m optimistic about it. We’re only asking for 30 percent,” Mr. Hren said. “We’ll know by mid-December.”
Chagrin Boulevard is the main thoroughfare in Woodmere going past some of the busiest shopping areas in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland. The road in Woodmere borders Orange Village and Pepper Pike.
Mr. Hren explained that the village needs to purchase 7-8 feet of land along the north side of Chagrin Boulevard for about 2,000 feet from Orange Place to East Brainard Road, totaling 16,000 square feet. On average, he said that land in that area sells for $2 million per acre, and the village needs to purchase about one-third of an acre. He said that it will affect Village Square, Sleep Number, Village Hall, Speedway and property owned by Randy and Ronnie Kertesz, including Beechmont Towers.
Mr. Hren explained that design plans for the right of way, including a sidewalk, are due at the end of November, and final project plans should be complete by the end of 2020. After the road widening is complete, Chagrin Boulevard will be resurfaced from Orange Place to East Brainard. The boulevard recently underwent a microsurfacing project, which is a form of maintenance. That was completed in September, and ODOT covered 100 percent of the cost, Mr. Hren said.
Woodmere officials considered replacing the sewer main that runs below Chagrin Boulevard as part of the widening project, but sewer replacements are not eligible for these ODOT funds. The sewer lines on Chagrin and Belmont Road currently are owned by Woodbran Realty Corp., a private wastewater treatment plant that services all of Woodmere and part of Orange Village and Pepper Pike.
Mr. Hren explained that public funds only can be used for a village-owned sewer system. He said that the village is working to iron out an agreement with Woodbran so the village owns the lines and can build a new line on Chagrin Boulevard since the current system is at least 50 years old. The sewer lines on the other side streets were installed in 1994 and are owned by the village.
In other news, census data recently showed that Woodmere Village is no longer in the upper quartile of low to moderate income communities in Cuyahoga County. Mr. Hren said that this change means that the village is not eligible for the $150,000 Community Development Block Grant unless it services limited clientele like children or seniors. Mr. Hren said that 63 percent of Woodmere residents have access to one or less vehicle per household and said that people without cars could count as limited clientele for a block grant.
Woodmere officials are considering adding sidewalks on Brainard Road to connect the recreational trails in Orange Village with Woodmere and its array of businesses and restaurants.
“We wanted to see a more walkable community,” Mr. Hren said. “We can link Chagrin to Brainard to Harvard, and it aids in economic development.”
Sara Parks Jackson, development administrator for Housing and Community Development in the county, said that the project would not be eligible for a community block grant.
Mr. Hren said that the village would pursue a supplemental grant for the sidewalk project on Brainard instead. The sidewalk would extend from Chagrin Boulevard south to the municipal boundary with Orange and it would only be on the west side of the street. Mayor Ben Holbert asked if the sidewalks would be winding just as Orange’s trails are, and Mr. Hren confirmed that they would match.