WOODMERE — The village is likely to receive grant money for the Chagrin Boulevard widening project next year instead of this year. That is due to a conflict with the timeline of the project and the grant application deadline for the Ohio Public Works Commission.
That could mean a slight delay for the widening project on the village’s busiest roadway.
Village Engineer Ed Hren told the village Utilities Committee on March 10 that Woodmere can shift the funds that are used for different parts of the project and still stay on schedule.
“Considering this project was scored high by the District 1 Integrating Committee this year and the road is essentially in a failed condition, we understand the project would likely score highly again in a future round,” public works commission Director Linda Bailiff wrote in a letter to Mayor Ben Holbert in early March.
The village is planning to widen Chagrin Boulevard by adding one westbound lane between East Brainard Road and Orange Place Drive. Chagrin is the main thoroughfare in Woodmere and borders Orange Village and the city of Pepper Pike. It leads to Interstate 271 and is often congested with traffic from the surrounding businesses and malls.
Woodmere received $2.69 million from the Federal Highway Administration, which is committed and available now from the Ohio Department of Transportation, according to Mr. Hren. The contract with ODOT states that the federal dollars will cover 50 percent of the right of way acquisition and the rest of the funding would come from other sources.
Mr. Hren said that he expects the right of way acquisition to cost around $1 million. The village needs to purchase about 8 feet of the right of way along the north side of Chagrin from East Brainard to Orange Place, including part of the Village Square property, land owned by the Kertesz brothers, Sleep Number, Village Hall and Speedway, he said. The right of way must be acquired before the road construction can begin.
The public works commission grant would reimburse the village for work that is already completed, such as engineering costs, over the past year, known as the look back period. The commission grant could also be a credit to the village.
“The [Ohio Public Works Commission] grant is fluid,” he said on Friday. “We applied for $1.1 million this year. It will be similar next year.”
Mr. Hren said that the commission wanted the road construction to begin the same fiscal year that the right of way acquisition took place. Right of way acquisition is slated to begin in July of this year, but construction would start in January of 2022. Therefore, the village will reapply for the funding next year.
Instead, the village is using the federal grant to cover 100 percent of right of way acquisition. The public works commission funds, if awarded next year, would be used for the construction. Ms. Bailiff also waived the one year look back period so the village’s expenses are eligible for reimbursement in a later application round.
“The right of way acquisition includes payment to property owners and we have to hire a consultant to do the appraisal and negotiations with property owners. That costs money, too,” Mr. Hren said. “That is considered an eligible expense. [Ms. Bailiff’s] applying the look back waiver to the consultant services also and the costs that I incur while administering this process.”
Mr. Hren said that although his goal is for the village to pay nothing toward the project, that is unlikely. He advised village officials to budget $300,000 for contingencies.
“We’re in a good position,” he said. “I think we’re in a stronger position going into this than compared to last September.