MEDINA –– The Ohio Department of Transportation is planning a state Route 18 construction project, but its schedule is tentative.
The issue comes down to money.
As Ohio grapples with the funding cliff facing the state agency responsible for maintaining Ohio roadways, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency is calling on state legislators to act in the best interest of the region.
NOACA is united with Fix Our Roads Ohio (FOR Ohio), a coalition that aims to educate state leaders on the critical needs of Ohio’s transportation infrastructure and to advocate for a dedicated funding solution.
In a plea to state legislators, NOACA and FOR Ohio said the region needs more than $3.4 billion in infrastructure improvements in the coming years including $25 million for corridor improvements along Route 18.
“Northeast Ohio leads the state in having a truly multimodal transportation system, with roads, bikeways, walkways, buses, light rail, and heavy rail,” NOACA Executive Director Grace Gallucci said recently in a statement. “The region’s economy depends on having a well-maintained, safe, efficient, and sustainable transportation network, and Northeast Ohioans deserve nothing less. Transportation and infrastructure are integral to retaining and growing jobs and population, and keeping our region strong.
“NOACA supports the nonpartisan goals of the FOR Ohio coalition, and we look forward to working with Governor (Mike) DeWine and the Ohio Legislature as they seek consensus to fund transportation needs in a fair and equitable way,” she said.
In addition to specific project that will target main thoroughfares in the region, NOACA said regional priority needs of funding include $892 million in paving projects and another $238 million in bridge work, both of which are backlogged across the region.
DeWine, speaking to the Ohio News Media Association on Friday, said the funding crisis is “worse than he thought it was.”
Ohio’s gas tax has not been increased since 2005 and short-term fixes by then Gov. John Kasich to borrow against future Turnpike tolls is leaving Ohio in a position needed additional revenue sooner than later.
“We have a structural deficit brought about by different things, one being the power of the dollar,” he said adding that Ohio’s buying power is about 71 cents on the dollar to fund the million in maintenance and construction needs necessary to keep up with the aging infrastructure.
“At this rate, there will be no money for any new projects,” he said.
Medina County’s Route 18 project is not new, but it still remains a project NOACA wants to ensure is funding and completed.
According to Kaitlyn Thompson, ODOT spokeswoman, construction is currently estimated to begin in January 2022 with a completion date of November 2023.
“The project will address the traffic concerns along state Route 18 between the city of Medina and Nettleton Road,” she said. “It will include widening state Route 18 and improving the intersections at Foote Road and River Styx Road as well as constructing a multi-use path.”
Planning a project like this can take a lot of effort from many different people, Thompson said.
“Our capital programs department is involved with the designing and planning process. Our environmental team makes sure that the project follows all federal environmental laws and hosts all public involvement meetings. … There are many moving pieces to a project. It takes a team effort to make sure all aspects of this project are completed.”
Thompson said that the project goes from two lanes to three lanes in the area west of Alber Drive through the area just west of Foote Road.
The area from Foote Road to River Styx Road will be widened to five lanes and the area from River Styx Road to Nettleton Road will be widened to seven lanes.