June 25, 2016


Traffic clogs Public Square, city fielding motorist complaints

Orange cones and detour signs dot downtown Medina streets. Traffic congestion is especially bad this summer because the Ohio Department of Transportation is repaving state routes 18 and 57 at the same time the city is installing new water lines along Public Square. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAVID KNOX)

Dan Pompili, Kiera Manion-Fischer and David Knox | The Gazette

Streets need to be repaired. No argument there. But do so many have to be torn up at the same time?

That’s the question motorists are asking as they weave through the maze of orange cones and barrels dotting downtown Medina.

Mayor Dennis Hanwell said his office is handling between five and 10 calls a day from motorists either asking or complaining about roadwork clogging the streets leading to and from Public Square.

Hanwell said the complaints are understandable: It’s hard to get anywhere in the county without traveling through downtown Medina. That’s because four major highways — state Routes 18, 57 and 3, and U.S. Route 42 — all run through Public Square.

“There are delays any time you have construction projects like this,” Hanwell said.

But this year traffic congestion is especially bad because the Ohio Department of Transportation is repaving two major roadways — Route 18 east and west of the city and Route 57 south of the city — simultaneously.

Compounding the disruption for the past several weeks are road and lane closings to allow city workers to replace the century-old water lines along the south and east sides of Public Square.

A further aggravation to motorists trying to get to or from Interstate 71 is the closing of East Smith Road, near River Styx Road, in Montville Township for a $432,000 federally funded bridge reconstruction. East Smith Road, which runs parallel to Route 18, won’t reopen until Oct. 3.

City Engineer Patrick Patton said the $472,000 water line project around Public Square, being done by Fechko Excavating, should be completed in about a week.

Patton said he had hoped the water lines would be installed before ODOT began resurfacing. But the work was delayed by bad weather.

Patton said he didn’t want to wait until after the repaving was done.

“We didn’t want to have to dig up the new pavement,” he said.

The repaving is not expected to be finished until the end of October.

ODOT District 3 Deputy Director Allen C. Biehl said the state schedules repaving projects based on maintenance cycles.

“We don’t want to have to come out more often than we have to because we know it’s a huge inconvenience,” he said. “When you get into the square, we understand it can be a challenge to move traffic while we’re working, but we prefer to get in and out so you don’t have to see us again for another cycle.”

A cycle usually runs eight to 12 years between resurfacing projects.

ODOT is scraping off the old asphalt and applying new layers on three of the city’s main arteries:

n The western portion of Route 18, along West Liberty Street, from Public Square to State Street, and eventually to the western city limits.

n The eastern portion of Route 18, along East Washington Street, from Public Square to the city’s eastern limits, near Medina Hospital.

n Route 57, from Public Square, along South Broadway Street and Wadsworth Road to the city’s southern limits, near Sugarhouse Lane.

ODOT spokeswoman Christine Myers said the resurfacing has taken longer around Public Square because the contractor, Kokosing Construction, of Fredericktown, had to grind down the road deeper and is now laying down an intermediate layer of asphalt. That middle layer will be completed by week’s end.

“You’re going to have a more durable surface in that area,” she said.

Myers said the final layer of pavement will be laid down all at once for all the roadways, beginning in mid-October.

The $2 million project is part of the Urban Paving Program through the Federal Highway Administration, which provides money annually for state and federal road maintenance and is administered by ODOT.

The project cost is split 80 percent to 20 percent between the state and city.

Medina’s share of the cost is $400,000.

Next year, ODOT plans to resurface state Route 3 and U.S. Route 42 within Medina.

That project has not been bid out yet, but Myers said the project will run from mid-May to mid-October.

Hanwell said some business owners have been understanding.

“I’ve also run into a number of business owners who have been very complimentary,” he said. “They appreciate that they can still get to their businesses.”

The roadwork has cost some downtown businesses.

Hershey’s Barber Shop, 106 W. Washington St., closed early Tuesday and a sign on the front door blamed the construction work.

But Diane Kiser, of the Medina County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 32 Public Square, said the traffic problems aren’t keeping many people from coming downtown.

“They may complain about getting through the city, but I see a lot of people walking downtown,” she said Tuesday. “Today has been quite busy on the square.”

The most difficult time is the morning commute, Hanwell said.

“We’re seeing the most backup during the morning rush hour,” he said.

Hanwell said the contractor for the water line replacement is trying to get work done between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day so as not to be in the way of school buses going to Garfield Elementary School, 234 S. Broadway St.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com. Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com. Contact managing editor David Knox at (330) 721-4065 or dknox@medina-gazette.com.

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The Gazette is Medina County's daily local news source, serving the community since 1832. Contact The Gazette's news department at (330) 721-4065 or areanews@medina-gazette.com.