At tonight's Council meeting, City Council voted to reject the Committee Report that denied all claims. Later, under Miscellaneous Business, Council created a group to work with the Law Director's office to review each claim on an individual basis and approve or reject them. This will take a significant amount of time, but that is part of the job description after all.
I also learned recently about many of the reasons for delays to the SR 57 Project and I shared them with full Council. My presentation is copied below:
This SR 57 repair project is several years overdue. The City was well aware of the condition of the road and it is the City’s fault that commencement of the project was delayed.
A History Lesson:
This started out as a simple resurfacing project and had received approvals all the way through Stage 2. The next review would have been Stage 3, which is pretty much just filling in quantities and sheet numbers.
Instead, Stage 3 came in January of 2007 with a drastically altered scope of work, and numerous aesthetic items had been added into the project.
ODOT would normally have rejected such plans and forced the city to either make their plans match the approved Scope or to start over at the Scope level and resubmit everything for this "new" project.
Elyria was forced to re-submit their Stage 3 plans 9 or 10 times, and finally ODOT gave up and just let it go on through because the road was in such horrid condition. ODOT lobbied FHWA to allow it to go through as well.
SR 57 project was finally supposed to start last summer (July 1, the start of the State's fiscal year), but the City delayed it again:
· City wanted large trees in the median, after several meetings and tcc’s with lower-level personnel, ODOT Director finally told the Mayor no because large trees are a safety hazard.
· The city offered to install guardrails to protect his trees but was told no because guardrails are also hazards—you cannot install a hazard and then try to protect it with a hazard.
· The mayor also wanted to plant AZALEAS in some areas. ODOT did not prohibit this planting, but azaleas are very difficult to maintain at a residence, let alone in a harsh highway environment. Costly waste of taxpayers money.
· The city also fought to install large banner arms on all the light poles, further delaying the project commencement. After a meeting with ODOT, the Engineer and the SSD, the banners were eliminated from the project.
Due to the extensive delays in getting approval for the project, SR 57 deteriorated to a point that the "fix" isn't even what would be required under ODOT's pavement manual, which was not enforced because it's a local-let project.
ODOT warned the city in writing that they may not have the right fix, but since it was local-let it was their decision. FHWA agreed with that, and ODOT determined to watch the project closely and make sure the City completed the repairs before working on the aesthetics items.
The project also has full Federal Oversight, which has never happened before on a local-let project not on the National Highway System. The price tag and difficulties got the City on Federal Highway Administration's radar screen, and it will remain on both ODOT and FHWA's radar screens until construction is completed.
BTW—It was not ODOT’s idea to start at Chestnut Ridge, it was the City’s. The Engineer contacted ODOT after the project was out for bid and asked to issue an addendum to start at Lorain Boulevard, which was approved by ODOT.
Had the City not drastically altered the scope of work in January 2007 or delayed the project with aesthetic items that were really hazards:
· The project would have commenced in July 2007;
· The harsh winter would have been avoided; and
· The persons submitting moral claims would never have damaged their vehicles.
For these reasons, City Council should make it right by these people and pay their moral claims.