Utility lines to go underground for safety project in Oregon

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Oregon City Council on Monday accepted the $328,339 bid of Hank’s Plumbing & Heating Co., Inc., Toledo, for furnishing labor, materials and equipment for a utility relocation project on Navarre Avenue as part of the Navarre Avenue/Coy Road Safety Improvement project.
        The $2.5 million project will involve the widening of Coy Road, which will require the movement of existing utility poles. To improve aesthetics along Navarre Avenue, the city has been in discussions with Toledo Edison, Buckeye Broadband, Zayo, Northern Buckeye Education Council, AT&T, and Spectrum to relocate overhead utilities to underground conduits in preparation for the safety project.
        “This project is really intended to put all aerial lines crossing Navarre and Coy just prior to the start of the Navarre Avenue and Coy Road Safety Improvement project,” said Public Service Director Paul Roman. “It’s been in the budget for a couple of years. It was always our goal to do this just before we bid out the Navarre Avenue/ Coy Road project.
        In order to facilitate the relocation of overhead utilities with the safety project, the city will install underground conduits to accommodate each overhead utility, according to Roman. The utility companies will then move to the underground conduits.  The city will compensate the utility companies for any costs associated with relocation to the conduits that exceed the costs for a routine aerial relocation.
First step
        “The scope of the work is installing underground conduits,” said Roman. “We had $800,000 in our budget for this. This is just a portion of that work. We still have to have utility companies come in, take down their aerial lines, then put them through the underground conduit. The utility contractors will do the work throughout the winter and spring. The Navarre Avenue/ Coy Road Improvement project will be bid out in February.”
        “This will beautify the area. There’s a cost to it, of course,” said Roman.
        City council in January authorized Roman to receive bids for the project. The bids of three companies were opened on Sept. 8.
        Councilman Terry Reeves asked Roman if the underground relocation would disrupt services to the public. Roman said it would not.
        Council President Dennis Walendzak asked Roman why the bid was passed on an emergency basis.
        “I know the work is going to be conducted down the road,” said Walendzak. “I know people ask, `Why do we do everything on an emergency basis?”’
        Roman said it was a fair question.
        “With our projects, there are timelines. The Navarre Avenue/ Coy Road Safety Improvement project will be bid in February. We have to certify right-of-way just to get the approval to bid the project. The right-of-way has to be certified by the end of September. We’re kind of meeting that deadline with the emergency clause. Not to say, `Gee, why can’t you get the ordinance to us sooner?’ I wish we could. In some cases, there are so many obstacles to get the ordinances here. There’s a lot of planning with these projects,” said Roman. “No offense to state and federal, but things already move at a snail’s pace. For a lot of these projects, you want to get it approved as soon as possible because there’s so many things that need to get done.”
Reduce crashes
        The Navarre Avenue/Coy Road intersection is along the main commercial corridor through Oregon. It experiences large volumes of traffic from I-280 to recreational areas along Lake Erie. The intersection is ranked 39th on the 2016 Urban Interstate Highway Safety Improvement Program list for Ohio.
        The project was initiated by the city to reduce crashes and congestion.
        The project consists of:
        •Installing a median along Navarre Avenue at the Coy Road intersection with accommodations for U-turns;
        •Adding a right turn lane for northbound Coy;
        •Adding an additional thru-right lane for southbound Coy and extending the lane to Dustin Road;
        •Replacing the existing traffic signal with all new signal poles and traffic signal equipment to improve visibility and accommodate pedestrians, including adding supplemental signal heads, signal backplates and ADA compliant pedestrian signals;
        •Replacing the existing Coy Road Bridge over Amolsch Ditch north of Navarre Avenue to accommodate additional pavement width and sidewalks;
        •Resurfacing the pavement within project limits;
        •Eliminating some drives near the intersection;
        •Adding landscape and streetscape elements like the Navarre/Wheeling project.
Safety grant
        The city received a $1.7 million safety grant to implement various safety improvements at the intersection. The grant is intended for projects that have a high accident rate, which the Coy Road and Navarre Avenue intersection has, according to a traffic study. Over a three year period, the study showed there was an average of 50 accidents per year at that intersection.
        The safety grant covers most of the project costs, excluding aesthetic features such as decorative poles and lit bollards, which the city plans to have for the intersection.
        In 2019, council approved an agreement with DGL Consulting Engineers, LLC, Maumee, to provide engineering services for the design of the project.
        “Not only will it improve safety,”  Councilman James Seaman said of the project, “it will improve the flow of traffic when people can make right hand turns going north or south on Coy. I think this is very worthwhile.”
        City Administrator Mike Beazley agreed. He compared the project to the Wheeling Street/Navarre Avenue intersection improvements that were made in 2017. That project included, in part, the upgrading of traffic signals, the addition of a second left turn lane for southbound Wheeling Street, resurfacing to improve pavement skid resistance, waterline replacement and other related work. It also included utility contractors who worked within the city’s right-of-way along Navarre Avenue and Wheeling Street to install conduits to bury overhead utilities that crossed the roadway.
        “With Wheeling and Navarre, there was a nice outcome. It attracted real interest in the area,” said Beazley. “We expect some of the same kind of excitement with the Navarre/Coy improvements. It’s going to be much more attractive, much safer. It’s been a challenging intersection for us for a long time. We’re excited about what it’s going to mean and the possible interest in that area.”


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