September 23, 2014

Elyria
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Grafton business owners express doubts on Route 57 widening project

Cars travel Wednesday on state Route 57 in Grafton near Vivian Drive, one of the portions of the road that will be widened this year. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Cars travel Wednesday on state Route 57 in Grafton near Vivian Drive, one of the portions of the road that will be widened this year. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

GRAFTON — Sometime this month, work is scheduled to begin on a project that will widen state Route 57 from two to three lanes.

Designed to improve traffic flow through a mile-plus stretch of Route 57 dotted by numerous businesses in the village, some owners and managers of those businesses have doubts about the work.

One is Houssain Mishkin, owner of Harvest Cafe, a popular restaurant just north of the village’s CSX railroad tracks at the southern end of the project area.

“I never saw where we needed this,” Mishkin said. “They’re wasting $4.2 million as far as I can see.”

Mishkin worries about the project’s impact on his business, which already has dipped due to the unusually harsh winter. The widening is expected to take about eight feet of the restaurant’s parking lot, he said.

“Any place there’s construction, less people go,” Mishkin said. “People see those orange cones and they pass by. It’s less hassle to go somewhere else.”

Many Grafton restaurant and business owners along Route 57, such as the Harvest Cafe, are opposed to the road-widening project because it will affect the amount of available parking and put their businesses very close to the street. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

Many Grafton restaurant and business owners along Route 57, such as the Harvest Cafe, are opposed to the road-widening project because it will affect the amount of available parking and put their businesses very close to the street. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

The project is expected to take an average of 10 feet of right-of-way on both sides of Route 57, according to Deputy County Engineer Bob Klaiber.

The project will take in approximately 6,400 feet from Barrington Drive, the entrance to the new Barrington Park housing development, south to the CSX tracks. Barrington Drive is just north of the village limits in Eaton Township.

A contract for the work was awarded a few weeks ago by the Lorain County Engineer’s Office to the Shelly Co. of Twinsburg in the amount of $4.2 million. The village used state money to purchase land needed for right-of-way.

The county engineer’s office will hold a public meeting on the project 7 to 9 p.m. April 16.

“We’re not required to do this, but we like to give businesspeople and others the chance to meet the contractors to give them a general idea of what will happen during construction,” Deputy County Engineer Bob Klaiber said.

Joe Campolo, manager of the Federated Auto Parts store next to the McDonald’s, shared Mishkin’s opinion that the widening isn’t really needed because the village doesn’t routinely contend with heavy traffic.

He also is concerned about the headaches construction will pose daily for the continuous flow of delivery trucks trying to get in and out of his parking lot.

“It’s going to slow down business for us for sure,” Campolo said.

The parts shop services auto garages in Elyria, North Ridgeville, Avon and other communities. Campolo figures to add another driver to compensate for delays in deliveries.

“We have three drivers now and they’re leaving every 10 minutes,” he said.

Mishkin praised Mayor Megan Flanigan for her efforts to retool the project on behalf of local businesses and the village.

“Megan knows how we feel,” Mishkin said.

Flanigan could not be reached Wednesday by phone, email or social media.

Klaiber acknowledged that major roadwork through business areas almost always has a negative impact — even on a temporary basis.

“These are disruptive projects,” Klaiber said. “We could try and paint a nicer picture, but anytime you are tearing up the road and making significant changes, there’s going to be congestion for a while.”

Klaiber noted the project has had its share of supporters and detractors.

Not all businesses will be seriously affected by the roadwork, according to Dave Wildenheim, owner of Sparkle Market, one of the bigger stores within the work zone.

Wildenheim figures to lose about eight parking spaces in front of his supermarket. But due to the fact the store has a large side parking area, that won’t prove to be a major problem.

He said he thinks the third lane may make it easier for traffic to turn out onto Route 57 from his business, especially in the afternoon.

“Maybe a couple of traffic lights could have handled this, but I don’t know,” Wildenheim said. “I’m not an engineer.”

Expected to be finished by the end of 2014, the project is 80 percent federally funded. The remaining 20 percent will be provided from Ohio Public Works Commission, which funds public infrastructure projects, and the village of Grafton.

Local traffic will be maintained during construction.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.


  • Petah

    So the city is going to starve out their local businesses. Good Job Grafton!

  • http://obomunism.com/ Obomunism

    Take the annoying useless stoplight from downtown and put it at novak or hyannis, break the flow of traffic every now and then and you can turn left all day. And the problem is not turning left off 57 its turning left onto 57. A simple $1000′s fix using common sense, replaced with a $4.2 million project that fixes nothing, hurts businesses, totally wastes OUR money and NO one in Grafton wants? Brilliant!

    • Stan K

      If you would like grafton to grow out of its white trash, heroin junky,hillbilly image,then this project is necessary.If you are content with your small town dairy queen/waffle house image,then continue to impede progress.

  • GreatRedeemer

    Shovel ready !

  • Larry

    I drive through town a lot and have never seen a traffic problem. Pulling out from one of the driveways or side streets you sometimes have to wait for a few seconds but I’ve never had to wait long. This is another total waste of taxpayer money. It is not necessary. I’ve never had to wait at all making a left turn from 57 to a side street or driveway and don’t understand why they find it necessary to spend the money on this unnecessary project. This is as bad as the paving project on Island Rd. that had the big sign with Obama on it. The paved part of the road then stopped.

    • Bill

      Agree. Complete waste of taxpayers dollars but that’s what the government does best.

  • ken m

    never saw a problem driving thru grafton…have to agree with dave at sparkles..i think a few traffic lights would do just as,if not better then making the road wider…small businesses can t take a big hit because people won t get tied up in construction zones

  • Meerkat

    Widen the road? Why, speed limit is still going to be the same. Cops will still be sitting there waiting for someone to harass.

  • Janet Tomaric Wirtanen

    Unfortunately the former mayor and council dug in their heels without doing their homework. They bragged about getting a “special” 80/20 deal from the state, however as it turned out there is nothing special about that deal. Last year I requested and received several hundred pages of the plans and correspondence related to the project from Chris Brown at ODOT. What a disaster. He also said that projects like this are “not over until they’re over”. We residents and business owners need to step it up and get this mistake postponed until a real and relevant study can be completed to determine the true extent of traffic issues, and explore cost effective alternatives. We are fortunate to have new members on council and a mayor with real experience and education, who care about the businesses and residents of Grafton, and not their own self-interest. Let’s not forget about the corruption case recently exposed involving the widening project’s engineering firm and a certain former council president. Need I say more?