AVON — The state Route 611 bridge enhancement project will have traffic tied up for at least another three to four months.
According to city Engineer Rob Knopf, construction crews are about halfway through the second phase of the project. The first phase, which began last August, included milling and resurfacing state Route 611 from Detroit Road to the intersection south of the bridge near BJ’s Wholesale Club.
Crews spent the last year performing pavement and concrete repairs, applying temporary pavement on the east side of the bridge, adjusting utilities, removing medians, performing earthwork, installing piers, abutments and sheeting and removing and replacing the east side bridge deck.
Crews recently removed the west side bridge deck and are in the initial stages of replacing it. When the bridge deck is installed, temporary pavement will be removed, final asphalt will be laid and new traffic signals and signs will be erected.
Traffic slowdowns have become commonplace on state Route 611 near Interstate 90.
“My advice to drivers is to try to use alternate routes and be patient — there will be traffic congestion in that area,” Knopf said. “This project is necessary for the Chester Road relocation work to be done.”
Sheffield Lake resident Ashley Frank, filling her car up at the Pilot gas station on Route 611 on Thursday, said she takes alternate routes to get to her mother-in-law’s home in Avon whenever possible.
“I avoid (611) frequently,” Frank said. “When I am here, what is supposed to be a five-minute drive turns into a 25-minute drive. When I’m trying to get to Avon, I take all the back routes.”
Truck drivers at the station filling up said they’ll be relieved when the work is finished. Neil Savage, a driver for Fed-Ex, said traffic light timing in the area, combined with impatient drivers, creates a fiasco.
“Getting in to fuel up isn’t bad,” Savage said. “But getting out is tough. Sometimes I’ll be sitting there for 20 or 30 minutes.”
Trucker Chris Windham said the work on state Route 611 isn’t too bad. Windham said he’s fortunate because he often stops at Pilot at 3 or 4 a.m. when traffic is nonexistent. When he happens to be there in the afternoon, it’s a different story.
“It’s the drivers that get wrapped up with construction and run lights because they are right behind somebody else and in a hurry that mess things up,” Windham said. “When this work first started, it was a nightmare even trying to get in here at night. But now things seem to be cleared up.”
Lake Erie Crushers general manager Rick Muntean said very few fans have made direct complaints about accessing the stadium.
“I just asked the staff how many complaints we’ve received and really it’s very minimal,” Muntean said. “If the fans are frustrated by the traffic, they are not expressing it to us.”
Muntean said the city of Avon has been cooperative with the stadium since the project started.
“We met with them in the preseason about the possibility of gridlock,” Muntean said. “On the major event nights, when we’ve alerted them we are going to have a huge crowd, they have had police officers out here to help.”
The city recently said it will delay the Chester Road relocation project, which will align Chester Road with Recreation Lane, until the bridge project is complete to avoid even more traffic congestion.
“Once the bridge is widened and Chester Road is connected to (Recreation Lane), it’s going to be great for us,” Muntean said.
The majority of the $4.3 million bridge project is funded through the Ohio Department of Transportation. Avon Finance Director Bill Logan said the city paid 16 percent of the total cost, or $675,000, from its general fund for the bridge project.
When completed, the bridge will be widened and sidewalks and bike paths will be added to both sides.