April 18, 2014

Elyria
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Report: No need to fear I-90 plan

Consultant says Avon interchange isn’t threat to surrounding communities

ELYRIA — A proposed Interstate 90 interchange at Lear-Nagle Road in Avon won’t damage the economies of neighboring communities, according to a preliminary report issued by a consultant looking at the plan.

That’s exactly what Avon Mayor Jim Smith said he expected the report to tell the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, which must give its blessing to the interchange.

“This interchange isn’t going to encourage or discourage anybody from doing one thing or another,” he said. “The report justifies the fact that it wouldn’t have any adverse effect on anybody.”

The D.B. Hartt Inc. economic assessment report, which examined existing traffic and development patterns along I-90 in western
Cuyahoga County and Lorain County, said sprawling development in the area — both industrial and residential — would progress naturally whether an interchange is built or not.

“It is unlikely that the denial of the interchange will materially alter the development patterns compared to what has been and will likely occur in the future,” the report stated. “Development will continue to respond to market demand.”

The Richard E. Jacobs Group Inc. has already proposed a 220-acre site north of I-90 for development and will take on a third of the costs associated with the interchange’s $19 million price tag.

The remaining costs will be split between bonds paid for by the city of Avon and tax incremental financing agreements that will tap into the project’s expected revenue.

Representatives from the Cleveland Clinic, which plans to build a 170,000-square-foot outpatient facility within the Jacobs development, came to the meeting to support building the interchange.

Henkel Corp., the city of Avon’s largest employer, also supported the interchange plan in an e-mail to the consultant.

“Not building the interchange would not necessarily eliminate Henkel’s capability to further expand the Avon site,” Henkel’s e-mail said. “But (it) would certainly be a substantial detractor for future growth.”

The report also suggests providing a regional transit connection in Avon to help link riders to Cuyahoga County and beyond.
Ron Eckner, NOACA’s director of transportation and planning, said connecting to the rest of the region could help spur the approval the interchange needs.

The 38-member NOACA board, made up of public officials from Lorain, Cuyahoga, Lake, Medina and Geauga counties, is expected to vote on the issue Sept. 14.

Elyria Mayor Bill Grace sits on the board but remains unconvinced the interchange can have a positive effect locally — for the region or even the city it’ll call home.

“I’m skeptical,” he said. “I’m not sure I see the benefit to Lorain County, or the benefit even to Avon."

Contact Stephen Szucs at 336-4016 or sszucs@chroniclet.com.