Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Meadowlands Drive Extension Project Awaits ACE Approval
July 17, 2014 by Ann Wishart | No Comments

Progress may seem stalled on the Meadowlands Drive Extension project, but the bats are safe.Folks driving through the intersection of Meadowlands Drive and Water Street…

Progress may seem stalled on the Meadowlands Drive Extension project, but the bats are safe.

Folks driving through the intersection of Meadowlands Drive and Water Street this spring watched the removal of hundreds of trees in the woods to the west.

Then the orange snow fence went up. Brush and freshly-seeded grass are growing greenly along the full length of the road and sewer easements.

Planning a road and going through the permitting process takes at least three times longer than getting the job done, said Chardon City Director of Public Services Paul Hornyak.

Although the construction of the 1,200-foot-long extension and the southwest sanitary sewer doesn’t have to be completed until fall of 2015, Hornyak said cutting down the trees along the short stretch was essential to the project.

Timing is everything.

The law requires trees to be taken down by April 1 because the protected Indiana bats mate and nest in April, he said, adding in case the short trunk of the extension contained any bat-friendly trees, they needed to go down early.

Now the empty easement slumbers while the city and the Army Corps of Engineers comes to terms regarding the future path of the extension.

“We’re waiting on approval,” Hornyak said, adding the ACE called the short extension “the road to nowhere” because the city hadn’t planned beyond what it can afford to build.

The ACE wanted to see drawings for the future completion of the road to finalize the mitigation of any wetlands.

Running parallel to the proposed roadway, then hooking southwest after 1,200 feet, will be the southwest sanitary sewer from the Water Street sewer trunk lines to the sewer lines along Wilson Mills Road.

The new connection will allow the city to divert wastewater, currently coming down lines along Center Street to the larger sanitary trunk sewer along Wilson Mills.

“That’s the big push for the city,” Hornyak said, adding the sewer permit was issued last month.

“The army corps has no issue with the sanitary sewer permit,” he said.

The sooner both road and sewer lines go in, the better, but it makes financial sense to have one contractor for them both, so the timeline for the road is affecting the sewer line installation, Hornyak said.

“Hopefully, we’ll get the (ACE) permit for the road and can bid it all out in the fall,” he said, adding that would allow construction to begin in the spring and be completed by the fall.

About three-quarters of an acre of wetlands along the road’s path will have to be mitigated, so the city has acquired preserved wetlands somewhere to “trade” for those they have to fill in to get the project done, Hornyak said.

“We’ve filed all the permits to mitigate all the wetlands,” he said.

The city has purchased about an acre of mitigation wetlands and the price is included in the estimated project cost, Hornyak said.

Although the ACE wants to see a plan for the extension all the way to Wilson Mills, the city is not planning to build that far in the near future, he said.

The full length of sewer lines will be laid along a 30-foot-wide easement also cleared of trees in the spring. The city owns the property through which the lines and road will travel.

Hornyak was clear the city only has planned financing for the 1,200-foot-long road and full-length sewer trunk line.

The project is included in the city’s 2014-2018 capital plan and is estimated to cost about $1.6 million, Hornyak said.

Included in the bid description will be work on the North Hambden water main, he said.

Bids for the extension project will be advertised in late summer or early fall and the city hopes road construction can begin in the late spring 2015, Hornyak said, adding work on the sewer lines could begin during the winter.

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