$50K award helps Amherst Twp. fix deadly ditch

By Jason Hawk - jhawk@civitasmedia.com

The dangerous Engle Ditch problem is now $50,000 closer to being fixed.

An award from the Lorain County Storm Water District Board — whose members happen to be county commissioners Lori Kokoski, Ted Kalo, and Matt Lundy — will help fix water flow issues along Stang and Oberlin roads in Amherst Township.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, this is no small trench. The Engle Ditch runs some 2.25 miles.

The township committed last spring to a two-phase plan that included $114,205 worth of work in 2016 and 2017. Of that, Amherst Township’s share was $9,000.

“Clearing and grubbing,” which means stripping the ditch of vegetation and digging out the remaining roots, was done last year. Now a concrete culvert will be installed to control water flow.

Completely cleaning out the ditch will take four or five years as grants become available.

Trustees have said residents of the area suffer flooding of their yards and homes. And during heavy rains, water also overflows onto the pavement and creates hazards for drivers.

“After roads, or perhaps even equal to, the management of storm water is one of our chief concerns,” said trustee Dennis Abraham.

Water on the intersection has already caused the loss of life. Abraham recalled a crash roughly six years ago that took the life of one woman — the same crash that stood out as a red flag in the mind of assistant county engineer Robert Klaiber.

He cited the tragedy as prompting a closer look at the Oberlin-Stang intersection, ultimately resulting in plans for $257,000 worth of improvements this spring.

They include new pavement from the Ohio Turnpike to Rt. 113, as well as the addition of a left turn lane on Middle Ridge Road for eastbound traffic turning onto Oberlin Road. Most of the price tag — 80 percent — will be covered by a Federal Highway Administration grant.

Commissioners are also seeking bids right now for a 1.15-mile resurfacing project on Oberlin Road, including the construction of two concrete traffic islands at the intersection of Middle Ridge.

In addition, resurfacing and widening of Middle Ridge Road has been awarded to Cross Roads Asphalt Recycling of Columbia Station for $292,545.

That project, on the opposite side of Rt. 58, will use Federal Highway Administration and Ohio Public Works Commission funds. Work will run from late summer to the end of October.

It will cover a more than 2,000-foot stretch from Quarry Road to Pyle-South Amherst Road.

The recent storm water board grant was one of 14 countywide, totaling more than $430,000. Communities sent more than $700,000 in requests to the district in December.

“The district was created to enable the county and townships to remain compliant with regulations and generate resources to address our drainage needs. This round of grants and awards is the largest yet and builds off of our previous rounds of projects,” said Kokoski, who serves as president of the board.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk