July 30, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria officials present Middle Avenue project

A worker blocks Middle Avenue in Elyria during a water line project in the summer of 2011. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

A worker blocks Middle Avenue in Elyria during a water line project in the summer of 2011. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

ELYRIA — It’s the four-lane road that brings southern Elyrians into and out of downtown, but if you ask south-side residents, it is a major city thoroughfare that has seen only minor repairs.

Long before the new Elyria High School — a $70 million building sprawling across two city blocks — went up, the biggest economic investment the 5th Ward has seen in years, residents in the ward have waited patiently for a facelift for Middle Avenue. From a city standpoint, the sticking point has always been the funding.

Now it looks like the wait is over.

Funded through the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, Ohio Department of Transportation, Ohio Public Works Commission and even a slice of the city’s windfall proceeds, a $3.6 million reconstruction project is set to commence later this year. City officials are ecstatic. Residents are cautiously optimistic.

“There is a lot of animosity from other people working on other projects on Middle Avenue that have been a disaster,” resident Theresa Shea said. “But now we are hearing things from this administration like under budget and on time when it comes to other projects. We can only hope.”

More than hope was on the agenda Thursday night as city officials detailed the project. Starting at Broad Street and stretching south to Oberlin-Elyria Road, the Middle Avenue plan promises to be more than just new pavement, although the original idea called for just that.

“It has evolved into this complete street concept that basically is a transportation development plan that addresses multi-modal traffic — cars, bicycles and pedestrians,” said city Engineer Tim Ujvari.

Ujvari and Project Engineer Kathy McKillips did their best to sell the project. There will be new curbs and curb ramps, a bike path, decorative light fixtures and the crumbling medians will be reconstructed. They said the road will take on a more boulevard-like look and feel.

It is something Mayor Holly Brinda said is long overdue.

“This is a major reconstruction project, so that is very good news,” she said.

Nonetheless, the meeting between residents and officials was tinged with skepticism. Middle Avenue resident have gone through a recent water line replacement project that can only be described as problematic.

“I think I can speak for all residents when I say that project produced a lot of resentment and frustration,” said Councilman Marcus Madison, D-5th Ward. “We thought it was going to be something good for the ward, and it turned out to be one problem after another. So I think they are just looking for a little reassurance that it won’t happen again.”

Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka did not mince words when she admitted the biggest problems of that particular project.

“The Middle Avenue water line project was a nightmare,” she said. “The lesson we learned there was the lowest bidder is not always the best bidder.”

Ujvari said the aim with this project is to give residents more opportunities to voice their concerns and be a part of the process.

“These things take time, but this will be a great project for the city when it is completed,” he said.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.

PROJECTED TIMELINE

Bids received for project: August, September

Contract awarded: September, October

Construction: November 2014 – July 2015

Proposed improvements

  • Milling and repaving of deteriorated asphalt.
  • Performing full depth pavement repairs as needed.
  • Removal and reconstruction of the curbed median/boulevard.
  • Replace deteriorated curb sections and curb ramps per American Disabilities Act standards.
  • Crosswalk improvements.
  • Replacing traffic signals with new updated signals and removal of 11th Street traffic signal.
  • Replacing and upgrading street lighting.
  • Providing bike lanes.
  • Limited removal of on-street parking between Seventh and 16th streets to accommodate bike lanes.
  • Limited drainage improvements.

SOURCE: City of Elyria

  • mdr12372

    I love the bike path idea! I would also like to see a safe pedestrian /bike connection between Gulf Road and West River roads. You see a lot of people walking (even young kids) on that stretch of Rt. 57. There needs to be a safe walkway connecting those two major roads.

  • http://comradealan.com/ Alan Pugh

    Bike lanes! That’s a great move. We have the capability to make the downtown area very bike friendly and it would be a great investment. Bike racks in front of businesses would be a great addition.

  • Mark B

    Here comes Brinda’s, RT 57 Blunder . We have money to over spend on a pet project, but not enough money for the essentials. What about all of the crime on the southern end. Shootings, robberies , drugs . No one in there right mind would go to southern middle ave at night , and think twice about doing it in the daylight.

    I would like to see the costs for the Bike Lanes broken out separately. Does the cost justify the benefit?

    • Sis Delish

      Mark B.

      I’m glad you said it. Elyria will have a nice new access road for folks passing through, just like the Jewel By-Pass, if they dare.

      Some folks will get tingles up their legs about the Bike Trail component. I doubt many will risk using the same once a few of them get bike-jacked in broad daylight. It’s likely that none will use the bike trail after sunset.

      I’m predicting construction equipment and supplies will be damaged and lifted for the duration of the construction. Cost-overruns may occur as a result.

      Middle Avenue used to be lined with proud homes Well-Kept and Majestic. The Citizens were rewarded just by driving down the Avenue.

      Now, the area is a mess, and the residents who have contributed to its decline are rewarded with this multi-million dollar upgrade.

      Now, it will be a Majestic Road with nothing else.

  • GreatRedeemer

    All things considered, this section of Middle avenue has allot
    of potential when compared to other areas. With a new look, pedestrian and bike
    friendly you may just get more business to invest and fill some of those vacant
    stores. You still need something to attract people to downtown however or it
    will become a nicer road for the downtown workers to leave town for greener
    pastures.

  • Donald Duck

    How much is this project going to cost the taxpayer? I see no price tag. Maybe they can remove the shrubs and trees that are not being used along route 57 that are becoming over grown by weeds and use them for this project. Oh just a thought.

  • Donald Duck

    I also would like this project to be phase 1 of 2 phases and that is to redo old route 20 (Cleveland Street) from the railroad tracks to Broad Street to Middle Ave. Make it look like a Blvd. It would really create a nice environment for consumers along the whole stretch.

  • Davin Simpson

    i like the idea of fixing middle ave but they need to look at east ave as well theres a lot of pot hole on east ave and it need a major over hall. i live on east ave and i go that way to work and its a maze to mess all the potholes so i dont damge my van going down the road so if we all can get up with city and complane to them about east ave