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Elyria's East Avenue reopens soon

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    Rain gardens line the reconstructed East Avenue in Elyria on Thursday.


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    New blacktop lines East Avenue in Elyria.



ELYRIA — After a year of road closures and orange barrels, one of Elyria’s main north/south arteries is reopening as soon as next week.

East Avenue underwent a more than $4.3 million project to install new water and sewer lines.

And, with an eye toward protecting the nearby Black River, the project also includes more than 25 new rain gardens or bio-swales, which are basically bump-outs from the road that have vegetation in them to act as natural filters for stormwater before it goes into the river.

They are designed to be an eco-friendly way of dealing with stormwater runoff — not lush gardens on the side of the road.

City Engineer John Schneider explained Thursday that stormwater will flow toward areas along the road and be directed toward the bioswales, small areas with plants, rocks and other natural materials that will filter impurities from the water picked up on the road — for example, oil and gasoline — before slowly releasing into catch basins and then into the river.

“They serve a dual function with the first largely being for water quality,” Schneider said. “It helps filter impurities and trash that may be on the road so it is not washed down into the catch basins and into the river.”

With limited storm sewers on East Avenue, the bioswales are a supplement.

Schneider said the majority are on the east side of the road along the river side with some on the west. It will be the city’s responsibility to clean the bioswales and keep them clear of trash, but in time it could become a community project as church groups have expressed interest in maintaining them for the city in exchange for stormwater credits.

Schneider said some residents have expressed concern in how the bioswales have affected parking on East Avenue. The bump-outs have reduced some parking on the road.

“Over the years, we didn’t see the road full with parking, and we know that nearly everyone does have their own driveways,” he said. “We feel it is still some parking out there for people.”

The new sewers eventually will tie into the main East Side Relief Sewer that snakes through a large portion of the city including toward Gulf Road, where another main project is underway. Just like in that part of the city, crews installed large sewer pipes up to 76 inches in some areas in the ground.

The East Avenue project also includes solar-powered signage near the bend at 16th Street to better warn motorists, curb cuts and new driveway aprons as necessary and lateral water lines from the main to resident shutoff junctions just beneath most tree lawns.

“We are just about done and only still have some work to do,” Schneider said. “The bioswales won’t be complete until October.”

In the coming weeks, the city will make a couple of other tweaks to area roads to help traffic flow better and keep drivers and homeowners safe.

The intersection of East River Street and Park Place, where Clark Street connects, will go from a three-way stop to a four-way stop as a part of the city’s street resurfacing program. It will be about a month before the signage changes, Schneider said.

Also the city is installing a blinking sign on South Abbe Road, roughly 500 feet before the road ends into Chestnut Ridge Road. This is to help drivers prepare for the stop in an effort to keep drivers from going through the intersection and hitting a home that faces the street. Asim Taylor, 39, of Elyria, and his passenger, Jami Chappell, 33, died in January 2017 after their car crashed into the home.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 440-329-7121 or Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.

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