WOODMERE — The Ohio Department of Transportation took a step to alleviate cash flow concerns for the village for their project to widen Chagrin Boulevard, which is slated for construction in 2024. The $4.6 million project will add one westbound lane between East Brainard Road and Orange Place Drive.

Before the road can be widened, the village has to purchase land from several property owners along Chagrin. Councilman Seth Young, who chairs the Finance Committee, stated concerns with the village’s cash flow due to large expected payments for the right of way acquisition. The department of transportation agreed to pay the property owners directly instead of reimbursing the village. ODOT will also pay the consultants who will make appraisals and offers on the properties.

The department of transportation will contribute $2.7 million to the project and the remaining $1.9 million is from an Ohio Public Works Commission grant.

“We have limited resources,” Village Engineer Ed Hren said on Monday. “We’re going to have some large payments that would have required us to borrow money to make payments, only to be reimbursed. This really cut a lot of work out that would be involved with securing funding through a loan. It made it a quicker process. This does not happen very often.”

The village first requested that ODOT pay the property owners directly just before the COVID-19 pandemic began and their request was denied. Mr. Young advised the village to ask again due to the pandemic’s impact on Woodmere. The village relies on income tax revenue, Mr. Hren said, which dropped significantly while businesses were shut down. There are more than 300 businesses in Woodmere.

The right of way acquisition will begin in January 2022 and may take six months to one year, Mr. Hren said. KMJM Land Services, LLC is conducting the real estate acquisition process and the firm Smith and Nejedlik will review the appraisals.

After that, an AT&T duct formation must be relocated. The conduit, which includes telephone, internet and cable wires, is currently located under the sidewalk. When the road is widened, it will be under the curb, which would interfere with catch basins and storm sewers, Mr. Hren said. The conduit will be pushed back from the street 6-7 feet.

“Putting conduit in the ground doesn’t take long but it’s the switchover from old wires to new wires. That work has to be done at night,” Mr. Hren said, adding that overnight is the best time to cause minimal disruptions. “There’s such a reliance on that particular run of conduit.”

During the Utilities Committee meeting on Nov. 9, Mr. Young asked if the Speedway gas station at Chagrin and East Brainard would lose some of its pumps due to the road widening. Beth Fulton of Chagrin Valley Engineering said the right of way acquisition team will review the value of their land and the cost to remove and rebuild such an apparatus.

“The property owner is responsible for relocating anything, signs and anything else that might be in the way,” Ms. Fulton said. “But they are compensated for it.”

Mr. Hren said the timeline would allow construction to begin in the summer of 2023 but he would prefer to start in the spring of 2024. Starting work in the summer shortens the construction season, he said. If something unexpected happens and the project has to shut down, it is much more expensive to start up a second time. Mr. Hren also said the village does not want construction barrels on Chagrin during the holiday shopping season.

“We’re moving forward,” he said of the road widening project. “The wheels are starting to turn, these are positive steps and we’re starting to see progress.”

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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