By Jeff Gallatin
City officials are already working to set up a meeting with state roadway officials after North Olmsted received a green light on an upcoming $8.6 million traffic signal modernization project from a regional coordination agency.
“We’re going to meet with ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) officials and begin work on getting ready for the engineering and other initial work on the project,” Kim Wenger, director of planning and development for North Olmsted, said Friday.
North Olmsted officials said earlier in the week that Northern Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency officials had notified them that the city’s traffic signal project was formally placed on the project list. The approximately $8.6 million project will largely be funded by grants administered by the agency, with the city of North Olmsted providing 20 percent matching funds.
“It’s going to be a complete upgrade from the signalization through the software and coordination of all the intersections throughout the city,” Wenger said.
With 52 intersections in North Olmsted being affected by the project, the work will have to be done in phases. It is designed to replace old, outdated equipment, upgrade to more modern equipment, redo the software and have a better central control system. Officials have currently set Phase 1 for 2015, with Wenger indicating the city wants to begin the engineering work next year.
“That’s why we want to set the meeting up with ODOT as quickly as possible, so we can do as much as we can right now to have the project ready to go,” she said. “We’ve had several projects and studies in conjunction with other agencies which have collected data and information on our intersections and streets.”
Wenger said Phase 1 will concentrate on heavily traveled roadways and intersections in the Lorain, Crocker-Stearns and Clague roads areas.
“It’s going to take several years to get done, and time frames can change, depending on circumstances, but we’re very happy that it’s now officially on the project list and is going forward,” she said.
Wenger noted that at $8.6 million, even the 20 percent, or a little over $1.7 million, matching funds from North Olmsted is a major expenditure, but well worth it.
“The NOACA officials like to see some investment of funds and resources as well from the recipients, and this is certainly something that will benefit the city with all the residential and commercial traffic going through the area,” she said.
Mayor Kevin Kennedy lauded Wenger’s work in getting the project going.
“It’s another great job by her in terms of not only getting grant funds, but also the support for the project from different people involved,” he said. “It’s going to help a lot of people, and just shows that getting grants and assistance will remain a priority for this administration.”
Paul Barker, chairman of City Council’s finance committee, said it will enable North Olmsted to make major improvements in a needed area.
“It’s something that we’ve needed to get done,” he said. “The last major changes in this area were in the 1990s, so it’s definitely needed. Safety-Service Director (Scott) Thomas has been running around improving traffic signals where he could, but this will be a complete upgrade, which will really show results. Yes, it’s expensive, but well worth it when you consider how important these areas are to the city.”