July 23, 2014

Elyria
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ODOT: Late start won’t stall 57 project

ELYRIA — A state Route 57 repaving project that Elyria officials hoped would start this fall isn’t likely to begin in full force until spring, but the project should be completed on schedule, officials said Tuesday.

The approval process for the Route 57 repaving project — a $20.5 million plan using local, state and federal funds — has slowed things down a bit, but not enough to delay the project’s completion date, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.

“I think probably the best thing to say is what we’ve been saying all along,” said Brian Stacy, spokesman for ODOT’s District 3. “The major part of this project will be done in 2008, and the project will be done in 2009.”

The repaving project will encompass a stretch of Route 57 from state Route 113 to state Route 10, just south of the Chestnut Commons shopping center.

Elyria Mayor Bill Grace said in past months that the project was likely to start this fall but said Tuesday that the scope of work means numerous government agencies are reviewing the project’s plans.

“There’s a lot of detail to review,” Grace said. “It’s a massive amount of construction and a great amount of details for many agencies to go through. It’s all running smoothly — it didn’t go as quickly as we’d hoped — but it’s going nonetheless.” 

Grace said the city anticipated doling out contracts this fall, with the project’s “preparations and logistics” ironed out for full-blown construction by spring.

Stacy said that scenario is still in play.

“We said the project would be sold this year, and we hoped it would start this fall,” Stacy said. “We always said it would sell this year, but the actual start date has always been contingent on when the project sells and when the contractor comes on board.”

The fact that approval is needed from a number of government agencies involved — the Environmental Protection Agency, ODOT and the Federal Highway Administration — has resulted in additional levels of review and additional scrutiny, officials said.

The project now is being reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration, the end result of which should open the project up for contractor bids, Stacy said.

Stacy said he couldn’t say when the FHA might be done. 

“I can’t read the minds of the Federal Highway Administration,” Stacy said. “I wouldn’t put words in the mouth of the Federal Highway Administration or limit them on their process. It’s a case-by-case basis, project-by-project.”

Federal Highway Administration officials couldn’t be reached late Tuesday. 

Either way, with the late-fall approval date for the Route 57 project, the major construction wouldn’t have been likely to get under way until spring’s fair weather, Stacy said.

“The majority of what the public will see is going to be in 2008,” Stacy said. “We’re in Ohio … and our major construction season is April through October. If it sells in September or October, then we’re already at the end of the construction season."

Contact Shawn Foucher at 653-6255 or sfoucher@chroniclet.com.