City engineer reviews Highbridge bridge, Vermilion Road project, Safe Routes

By Karen Cornelius

The Finance Commitee of city council met on Monday night, June 11, with city engineer Chris Howard updating members on several projects including the Highbridge Road Bridge Replacement, Vermilion Road resurfacing, and Safe Routes to School concerning Sanford sidewalks. The current construction of the bridge already has change orders, and phases one and two deadlines for resurfacing Vermilion Road are looming. Plus, the Safe Routes to School project with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has come back after years being dorment.


City engineer Howard said the Highbridge bridge project has some change orders coming up with cost overrides. He said an existing waterline was found as well as modifications to the abutments which would cost an additional $27,510. There was also more excavation because the soil was unsuitable for a cost of $25,600 so that’s about $53,000 in change orders, but once the project is totally done, it could be less. He said ODOT has a cap on the project for $1.6 million and any over is the city’s responsibility. The city’s share already for the 80-20 percent is $546,000. The change orders would be less than two percent of the total project. He advised council wait until the end to do the change orders. He just wanted to make council members aware so there would be no surprises later. He said he wanted to tell them now. He said there was no contingency built into the project.


Councilwoman Barb Brady wanted to know if these change orders were for unforeseen items. Howard said they were. Brady asked if he were happy with the ongoing project. Howard said the project is moving ahead and the contractor has done a good job trying to keep the road fixed from all the heavy trucks driving down Highbridge to the south. He said they are waiting for the railroad to approve a CenturyTel pole to be relocated. This has to be removed to get the beams in for the steel. He said the contractor is doing a great job. However, there is no money in the project to rehabilitate Highbridge Road from all the damage it will occur.


Councilwoman Brady was not happy there was no road repair money included and said this has happened before when North Main Street was torn up with no money to repair the street. She said this doesn’t make sense to her. The city engineer responded that it probably came down to money and the grant the city had for the bridge from ODOT was strictly for the bridge. If the city had spent all its money on Highbridge there would not have been any money left for other road repairs. Howard said now there will be more increased traffic on Highbridge and he would like to try and get the road changed from a local road to an arterial one so they could apply for grant funds from the MPO. He said this wouldn’t help today because they have to get on the MPO list and wait.


Mayor Jim Forthofer stated that they knew the road had to be repaired and he asked to place this topic on the Streets, Buildings, and Grounds Committee for next month and discuss this possible reclassification of HIghbridge for more grant money. He said they have to figure out how to pay for the resurfacing. Councilwoman Brady said before they address paying for Highbridge she would like the costs of all the projects they need to look at, a spreadsheet to see what they have. The mayor said they just would like to discuss Highbridge as an arterial road and don’t have prices on the other issues yet including the upcoming Safe Routes to School.


Next, the city engineer discussed Vermilion Road and said phase one would go from Liberty Avenue to Brownhelm Station Road and phase two would go from Brownhelm to Jerusalem Road. He said for phase two the city needs a consultant under contract and he is proposing his firm Bramhall for the design services at $76,400. He said the ODOT deadline is March, 2019. The stage two is September, 2019, the final plan is for October, 2019. Construction would start in 2020. He has a meeting next week with ODOT representatives where Vermilion Road will be discussed as well as Safe Routes to School. Because of the meeting, the committee passed a motion that night to authorize the design services.


Council-at-large Monica Stark asked when the Safe Routes to School would happen. City engineer Howard said it would be next year. He said ODOT is on its second consultant for this project and that is why it has been delayed. He said now they are trying to revise the layout of the sidewalks because the original one was too costly because it was over ODOT’s cap and the city would have to pay. He said by revising the layout of the sidewalks it would minimize the cost to the city. Now, the sidewalks may not all be straight as orginally asked by the city but there will be a compromise around some obstacles, a jogging to avoid cost overruns. “We can’t do all straight due to the limited right-of-ways on Sanford.”


Councilman Steve Holovacs asked Howard if they could address the cut at the northend of Sanford, he said it looks like its going uphill. He asked if they could blend approaches at the northend. Howard said they asked ODOT that and there would be a public meeting later on where the sidewalks will be. Mayor Forthofer commented that Safe Routes to School went into a dark hole, but now it’s back and they will compromise on sidewalks.


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