NORTH RIDGEVILLE — You can’t get there from here. Well, you can, but it’s going to take a little more time and a lot more aggravation.
For the past two months, motorists gradually have gotten used to detouring off Sugar Ridge Road where a small bridge over a creek is being replaced. Last week’s torrential rains have pushed completion of that project back into next week.
But now the picture is compounded by drivers who can no longer take Race Road to travel between Center Ridge and Sugar Ridge roads due to a shutdown of Race Road at the Norfolk Southern railroad crossing where repairs and upgrades began this week.
The situation is especially taxing for parents and others like Patty Vasi, who now has to take even more time to get her daughter to games at the city’s Shady Drive baseball l complex off Sugar Ridge Road.
“The city claims there was nothing it could do when the railroad went to start repairs,” Vasi said of the work at the Race Road railroad crossing, which just got underway this week.
“They have nine fields at Shady Drive and you can easily have 400 people back in there at the same time,” Vasi said as she talked about the extra time she’s had to budget to try and get her daughter to the sports complex on time since being socked with the double detour.
“We live on 83 and I left the house at 25 to 6,” Vasi said. “I planned ahead so we wouldn’t be so late, and I got there at 6:10 p.m. Everybody was roaring about it when I got there.”
One detour was a little inconvenient. Having to grapple with both is really tough, Vasi said.
“Now you’ve got people pulling onto Race Road but once they get to the tracks, they all have to turn around and go back,” Vasi said. “They should never have allowed both projects to happen together.”
Mayor David Gillock stressed they wanted the bridgework to be finished before the summer sports season kicked into high gear.
“The bridge is a county project, and we asked if they could accelerate that to get done before June 1 when baseball season kicks in, and they agreed to move it up,” Gillock said Wednesday.
Work to replace the bridge on Sugar Ridge Road began in late March and originally was slated for completion by today. That date was pushed back after severe storms caused major flooding that affected the work area, which lies next to a ditch that became swelled with rain, City Engineer Scott Wangler said.
“The work takes as long as it takes, and especially when there’s unforeseen circumstances like exceptionally bad weather,” Wangler said.
Bob Klaiber, a deputy county engineer, said work should proceed fairly quickly now.
“They were preparing to pave today and put in some guardrails,” Klaiber said. “It should be open within the next week.”
Vasi said she was told by the city that nothing could be done to alter Norfolk Southern’s schedule for work that includes replacing railroad ties and resurfacing the two-lane roadway on either side of the crossing.
“They basically said Norfolk-Southern answers to no one,” Vasi said.
Gillock essentially agreed.
“Along comes the railroad, which doesn’t ask permission,” Gillock said. “They send you a fax telling you when they’re coming.”
City officials were told it would cost an additional $70,000 to delay the crossing project, Gillock said. The crossing is now slated to reopen Monday.