Archbold Village Council discussed a reduced-cost option for the Co. Rd. 24 project, and now faces a decision deadline.
During the Monday, Feb. 19 council meeting, Jeff Fryman, mayor, said the village was informed the Ohio Department of Transportation has a deadline for a decision on whether to recommend relocating St. Rt. 66 to Co. Rd. 24, or call for a “no-build” of the highway relocation.
The deadline is Thursday, March 1.
Bob Seaman, village engineer, said he had sent an email to ODOT, asking for an extension.
The reason for the request is because after the November election, there are new members on council and the German Township Trustees, and there have been discussions, he said.
“We would like a little time to explore our options,” Seaman said.
However, because Monday was President’s Day, ODOT offices were closed, so an answer was not available.
There was a question about what would happen if there is no vote by March 1; no one knew the answer.
Council could call a special meeting for Monday, Feb. 26, to vote on a recommendation.
Donna Dettling, village administrator, reminded council that at least five members must be present to suspend the rules or a resolution must be read at three separate meetings before a vote can be held.
Council discussed a reduced project, eliminating the roundabouts at intersections and the grade separation at Co. Rd. 24.
Kevin Morton, council president, said the reduced project would essentially be “Option 2” on the original feasibility study.
Morton said removing the roundabouts and the grade separation saves about $11 million from the Option 1 price of roughly $39 million.
He pointed out a large part of the cost is $5.6 million for a storm sewer in the area.
Morton said the storm sewer cost had originally been built into the cost of the Lafayette Street extension to Co. Rd. 24.
Later, when the village built the extension, the storm drainage portion of the project was removed.
The $5.6 million cost of a storm sewer was calculated into all options for the St. Rt. 66 relocation plan.
If a state-funded relocation plan is approved, state tax dollars will pay for the storm sewer.
Morton cautioned that there has been some talk of ConAgra moving the truck entrance and exit at its plant to Co. Rd. 24.
If the company moves forward with that project, a storm water retention pond on company property will have to be removed, and the new storm sewer will be needed.
“It’s not like we can do a $5.6 million project whenever we want to,” he said.
Reducing the scope of the relocation project by eliminating the roundabouts and grade separation reduces the size of the project to something the Fulton County Commissioners can support, Fryman said.
Fryman said with the village of Archbold as the lead agency, council can request whatever it wants from ODOT.
“Whatever we think will have the most benefit, the least impact, and the least cost,” he said. No Disrespect
Brad Short, one of two new council members, said, “No disrespect intended, but I find it difficult to spend $29 million when we’re not sure we’ve tried other alternatives.”
Morton said, “We’re not spending $29 million,” adding money would come from ODOT.
“It’s taxpayer money,” Short said.
Morton said the state of Ohio will spend the money somewhere. It might as well be here.
“It’s a question of who gets it, when they get it, or if they get it,” Morton said. Go It Alone
Council also discussed the possibility of doing the project without ODOT support, in cooperation with the county commissioners and the German Township Trustees.
Morton said if the current four-way stop signs on Co. Rd. 24 are taken down, and heavy trucks are sent down Co. Rd. 24, the situation would be made worse.
Past trustees had said they could not maintain the road if heavy trucks use it frequently.
Fryman said the trustees offered to trade the responsibility for maintaining Co. Rd. 24 to the county commissioners, for another section of roadway.
Kenneth “Skip” Leupp, president of the trustees, said that offer had been extended to the commissioners for 28 years, “and they’ve never taken us up on it.”
If an additional property tax levy is put on the books for Co. Rd. 24 improvements and maintenance, Fryman said only German Township, including Archbold, would pay for the upgrades.
“I wonder who in the room is willing to vote to raise taxes,” Morton said.
There was also discussion of a study done by the Fulton County engineer to simply “beef up” Co. Rd. 24 for truck traffic, not elevating the roadway for flood plains or similar issues.
The study also did not include the $5.6 million storm sewer.
The 2010 cost estimate was $5 million, with a 2014 revision of $5.8 million.
Morton suggested asking Frank Onweller, county engineer, to “dust off” those cost estimates.
Fryman suggested calling another joint meeting of the commissioners and the trustees within the next few weeks. Co. Rd. 22
Vaughn Bentz, a councilman, said it had been suggested to him that rather than send truck traffic down Co. Rd. 24, that trucks be routed down the present Co. Rd. 22, where a grade separation (underpass) with the railroad already exists.
From there, Co. Rd. 21- 3 could be improved to the south, then have truck traffic jog back to the west to South Defiance Street to access the Archbold Industrial Park and industries on the west side.
Seaman said some major bridgework would be required, and Fryman said there would still be a battle for right-of-way acquisition.
Morton said village officials are trying to get the industrial park certified by state officials for economic development.
A requirement for certification is a second entrance to the industrial park off of a second roadway.
Morton said one day, he was following a truck down St. Rt. 66 from the Ohio Turnpike.
At the US20A intersection, the truck continued south on Co. Rd. 24, past the “No Through Trucks” sign.
He followed the truck to US 6, where the truck turned onto the federal highway.
“Trucks are already starting to use that route,” he said. Exhaust Efforts
Short said, “I just want to make certain that we exhaust all our efforts to make the best educated guess” on a Co. Rd. 24 project.
“We didn’t think we could come together over the fire department– look what happened.
“People on both sides are willing to work together. We’re communicating with the trustees, we’re communicating with the commissioners.”