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Pearl Road Widening Dealt a 6-Year Setback

City isn't taking the bad news lying down, though

Strongsville officials were hoping to start the final phase of the Pearl Road widening next year, but that now appears next to impossible.

The looming financial crisis in Ohio's transportation program has pushed funding for the project back until 2019.

"It was disappointing to hear it's been pushed so far in the future," Council President Mike Daymut said.

The project would make Pearl five lanes up Stoney Hill, all the way to the county line at Boston Road.

But don't expect Strongsville officials, who have already hired an engineer to design the project, to accept a six-year delay without a fight.

"I know the mayor is constantly meeting with engineers to find whatever funding is out there," Daymut said.

And officials are hoping the fact that they already have engineering under way will allow the Pearl Road project to slip into the state's transportation schedule if another project doesn't.

"We'll have all our ducks in order and will be ready to go," Daymut said.

The Crisis

After a year of discussing the looming transportation financial crisis facing Ohio, the Ohio Department of Transportation last week released funding projections that could result in pushing back by decades some of the state’s largest construction projects.

“Unfortunately, this is Ohio’s new reality. For far too long, previous administrations have added more and more to the list of TRAC projects knowing that there were more projects than funds available,” ODOT Director Jerry Wray said in a news release. 

TRAC, the Transportation Review Advisory Council, a bi-partisan group responsible for approving funding for the state’s largest transportation projects, received 72 applications in 2011 for projects totalling $10 billion.

But ODOT only has about $100 million -- funded by state and federal motor fuel tax -- to spend each year on new construction.

The TRAC is now rejecting a portion of the applications for new funding, while ODOT must consider innovative or alternative funding sources to pay for the state’s growing infrastructure.

For the full list, visit the ODOT website.

Pushing for Pearl

Last April, Strongsville officials learned TRAC had of the Pearl Road widening project $6 million in state money.

A week later, the city hired Euthenics Inc., a Cleveland civil engineering firm, to design the plans for about $900,000.

Mayor Tom Perciak has said the widening of Pearl is crucial to opening up a new section of Foltz Parkway to industrial development, as well as reviving local businesses on the south part of Pearl Road.

The grant -- now delayed till 2019 -- was to pay almost half the cost of the $12.7 million project. The city plans to contribute $3 and was casting around for the additional $3.7 in other grants.

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