ELYRIA — City officials may have a solution for the darkened thoroughfare of state Route 57, but they are waiting for a contractor to shed some light on the work completed nearly a decade ago.
Mayor Holly Brinda said the solution could include removing some of the light poles, replacing light fixtures with energy-efficient bulbs and saving the removed poles in storage for use in a quick fix. This proposal would cost between $200,000 and $250,000.
“This is a situation we inherited, but it’s one we must address, and this may be the best long-term solution,” Brinda said Tuesday during a City Council meeting.
City Engineer Tim Ujvari said he has contacted the original contractor that installed the lights to see if this plan would work. He hopes to have an answer by early next week. The contactor also would have to determine if fewer lights would meet federal transportation standards for lighting.
Brinda said she wants a solution sooner rather than later because the darkened road is a safety issue.
“We can’t have a hundreds lights out,” she said.
The plan would be to remove some of the poles in heavily concentrated areas to reduce the number of targets for drivers. Since the poles went up in 2009, motorists have knocked them down during traffic accidents with increased frequency. In addition to just normal burnout from use, the city estimates that at least a third of the traffic lights between Chestnut Ridge Road and Lorain Boulevard are out.
Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka said the city installed the lights roughly 10 years ago and they are not efficient by today’s standards.
The city installed the high-wattage lights on Route 57 in 2009 as a part of a $20 million reconstruction project. However, the lights are city-owned and -operated because the poles are not regulation Ohio Edison poles, so they are under the purview of the city to maintain, Siwierka said. The ones chosen for the thoroughfare are slimmer and shorter than standard poles.
While the proposed plan would address one thoroughfare, Councilwoman Donna Mitchell, D-6th Ward, said it does not address the general concern of traffic lights in other parts of the city, especially on state Route 113.
“Can we please talk about 113 and what we are going to do about that,” she said.
North Ridgeville resident Diane Schlagel, who said she comes into Elyria almost daily and addressed Council about the lights, backed up Mitchell.
“I think it is deplorable the city of Elyria can’t light up the main thoroughfares into the city,” she said.
While the city is looking to see if it can tap Issue 6 funds to fix the lights as a roadway improvement, Brinda said she recently learned the city also has an energy conservation fund with roughly the amount of money the city would need for the project. She is checking to see if the project would meet the requirements to use that money as an alternative to Issue 6 funds.
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