What is the next step since Cuyahoga County received no bids for the long-anticipated North Main Street bridge project? That was a discussion point raised by village officials last week.
During a Committee of the Whole meeting that delved into the 2023 capital plan, discussion turned to the bridge project and what the future holds as well as the condition of the bridge itself.
“At the rate we are going, the bridge (project) might not even happen,” Councilman Andrew Rockey said.
“My gut is that it is unlikely that the bridge will be a 2023 project,” added Councilman Mike Corkran.
“Obviously all of us are concerned to move this project forward,” Chief Administrative Officer Rob Jamieson said last week. “The county is doing their due diligence to make the project a reality this year if at all possible.”
Council members also discussed the condition of the bridge, and stated they have been asked by people in the community about it. They requested that Mr. Jamieson obtain a statement from the county as to its safety and condition.
“There are currently no weight restrictions or closures on either the roadway or the sidewalks on the bridge,” Mr. Jamieson said, adding that the county inspects the bridge and has stated that it would advise the village if any safety restrictions would be upcoming.
“If the county sees things in the inspections that need restrictions, they will put them on,” Mr. Jamieson said. They are trying to do the project well in advance of that type of situation, though, he added.
Mr. Rockey asked what the next steps are, considering there were no bids.
Mr. Jamieson said the county has indicated it will be re-bidding the project in the near future.
“I’m not going to predict what will happen,” Mr. Jamieson said.
There are many possibilities, he continued, but he will deal only with what can be real or proven.
“We could have a project starting this summer, or we could not,” he said. “It’s too early to tell. As soon as we have solid information to share, we will do that immediately.”
He said the county is making some adjustments to their bid requirements.
“They are looking at the bid situation and at how they can achieve a more favorable outcome and receive some bids,” Mr. Jamieson said.
He said some contractors have requested that the county increase the number of closures allowed during the bridge work. The original plan allowed up to four one-week full closures of North Main Street with a 30-day notice. Some contractors have requested keeping that number at four but increasing the length of the closures up to two weeks at a time.
“We are still studying that administratively and will talk to the merchants to see if we can give them leeway without causing huge impacts,” Mr. Jamieson said. “They (the county) understand and respect the concerns of business owners, knowing we are a destination community.”
He said there is a lot of work out there and contractors are being selective.
The Route 8 bridge multi-year project in Akron estimated at $150 million is what many contractors are going for, he added.
“What is the next step if we get no bids (again)?” Mr. Rockey asked.
“They don’t want to guess,” Mr. Jamieson said of the county. “There are contingency plans. They are doing their very best to get this sellable.”
Councilwoman Angie DeBernardo asked if there is danger of losing the grant money for the project if it doesn’t happen in a certain time frame.
A large majority of grant funds for the estimated $7 million project are through the Federal-Aid Highway program that come through the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).
Mr. Jamieson said they will have to reach out to ODOT.
“There are some deadlines with federal funding availability, but I don’t know the details of that but Cuyahoga County is working in that framework,” he said.
Mayor William Tomko added that the project was attempted to be bid out in 2017 “and here we are, still looking for contractors.
“It’s very frustrating,” he said.
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