Gov. John Kasich’s plan to use the Ohio Turnpike to raise money to upgrade the state’s transportation infrastructure gives the green light to two long-stalled projects in Medina County.
The first project getting the go-ahead is a $47 million widening of Medina city’s main retail corridor, along North Court and Pearl roads (U.S. Route 42).
The project, scheduled to begin in 2016, calls for adding a fifth lane from Harding Street, in Medina, to Fenn Road, in Medina Township — a distance of about 1½ miles.
City Engineer Patrick Patton said the project has been on the drawing board for seven to eight years.
“We’ve had a lot of failed attempts to secure funding up until now,” Patton said. “We were able to obtain funds for planning but not right of way or construction, which obviously is the lion’s share of the cost.”
“We’re very excited. This will be the biggest road construction project the city has ever been involved with and it will be a great improvement once completed.”
The widened road will offer a center lane dedicated for left turns, in addition to two lanes each way for north and southbound traffic.
Patton said the corridor does not have a good history with crashes, and the project will improve safety, as well as mending efficiency problems created by increased traffic over the past 10 to 20 years.
The second project — a proposed widening of state Route 18 from Nettleton Road, just west of the Interstate 71 interchange, west about 1½ miles to Foote Road — is moving to the preliminary engineering phase. From there, it will progress to design and then onto construction.
There is no estimate yet of that project’s cost.
The state Legislature approved spending for the more than 30 multimillion-dollar projects earlier this year.
The money will come from the sale of bonds backed by future toll revenues expected to erase a $1.6 billion highway budget deficit and finance about $3 billion in road projects in every part of the state over the next six years, Kasich announced Monday.
“By thinking outside the box, we’re attacking Ohio’s highway budget deficit without a tax increase and keeping Ohio’s highways in top condition,” Kasich said.
Plans call for 27 transportation projects, costing $1.2 billion, in northern Ohio over the next two years and 14 projects in central and southern Ohio. Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell praised Kasich for funding the projects.
“He understands the importance of providing safe and efficient infrastructure that meets the needs of our community — our businesses, our residents, and visitors to our community,” the mayor said in a news release Monday.
The program promises to create 30,000 new jobs for every $1 billion spent, and save motorists an estimated $144 million by eliminating would-be vehicle maintenance costs or just sitting in traffic, not to mention 10.5 million gallons of gas that would be wasted in the problem traffic areas.
The projects in northern Ohio include:
• $324 million for Cleveland’s Opportunity Corridor — a new highway extending Interstate 490 from East 55th Street to the University Circle business district;
• $340 million for an Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland;
• $131 million and $62.5 million for two projects to widen Interstate 271;
• $96.4 million to reconstruct portions of Interstates 76 and 77 in Summit County;
• $116.7 million to add lanes to Interstate 80 in Mahoning and Trumbull counties;
• $48.7 million to widen U.S. Route 20 in Lorain County.
All of those projects otherwise would have been delayed by 10 to 12 years each.
The plan still needs final approval from the independent Transit Review Advisory Council, the body that oversees the state’s most expensive transit projects.
Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or email@example.com.