An access road that will link the Plaza at SouthPark with the two shopping centers to the west has been approved.
The Strongsville Planning Commission voted unanimously Thursday night to allow Visconsi Companies to build a 450-foot road that will run behind Ledgewood Square and connect with the driveway at the Borders Plaza.
Traffic will be able to get in and out using the Borders driveway -- it aligns with an entrance to SouthPark Mall -- or can continue west through the parking lot and use Falling Water Drive.
The aim is to alleviate traffic tie-ups at Royalton and Howe roads -- in particular, eastbound traffic that stacks up trying to turn left into the Plaza at SouthPark.
"It's really going to relieve a lot of traffic at Howe and (Route) 82," said Lori Daley, the city's design engineer.
The cost will be borne by Visconsi, which developed the Plaza at SouthPark and holds easements on the property through which the road will run.
"The administration is very happy the Visconsi family has heard our cry," Mayor Tom Perciak said.
Not everyone is as excited about the plan. Zack Hoty, managing partner of Ledgewood Square, said Thursday he had no idea the access road was being considered until he read it on Strongsville Patch.
"Nobody has been notified. We're all kind of stunned," he said.
His concern: Even more traffic using the driveway at the Borders Plaza. Hoty said he had already been in contact with the city about addressing the traffic problems there, which will increase when Earth Fare opens next year in the former Borders store.
City Engineer Ken Mikula said the city is working with the Ohio Department of Transportation on a signalization plan to smooth out the flow of traffic in the whole I-71 and mall area on Royalton Road.
Motorists have listed that area -- and especially the driveway into the Plaza at SouthPark -- among their top traffic peeves in Strongsville.
"Obviously, we need another way to get in and out of there," City Engineer Ken Mikula said. "This is a great project."
The access road will run past Rosewood Grill and behind Petco and Bed Bath & Beyond, then head west behind Strongsville Superwash, Panera and Trivs, coming out at the rear corner of the Borders store.
Greg Barrow, vice president of construction services for Visconsi, said work will start right away.
"Our plan is to have it in before the holidays," he said.
Mikula said Visconsi purchased easements for the access road when the company built the shopping center and always intended to add the access road, if it was needed.
The city responded to motorists' complaints this year by lengthening the left-turn lane for eastbound traffic into the Plaza at SouthPark, but it still often takes several signal cycles make the turn, backing up traffic on Royalton Road.