NORTH RIDGEVILLE - The Center Ridge Road project will take about one more year to finish and will come in at least $1.5 million over budget.

North Ridgeville Mayor-elect Kevin Corcoran said Friday that he wants to sue Arkansas-based Windstream Cable for not abiding by utility line removal and relocation deadlines.

“Windstream Cable is the focus of all the delays,” said Corcoran, who will be sworn into office on Dec. 20. “They did not do what they were supposed to do in the timeframe that things were supposed to be done, which mostly was installing cable lines and removing telephone poles.

He said the has not heard any reasons why Windstream hasn’t met its deadline, but the city would have to prove damages in order to sue them.

Corcoran said the specific amount of damages the city will seek will be determined later once all the costs are tallied.

Mayor Gillock supports the city going after Windstream to pay for the extra project costs , whatever they may turn out to be.

“We’re on the hook for the cost of any delays, but I don’t know what the total costs of those delays will be,” Gillock said. “Nobody has given me a bill, yet. I won’t be the mayor when that final bill comes, but if I were, I’d be going doing all I can to sue Windstream to recover those costs.”

The community, motorists and businesses are growing fed up with the delays. To deal with that, officials from the Ohio Department of Transportation’s District 3 office, which oversees road projects in Lorain County, held a public meeting Nov. 19 at North Ridgeville High School's auditorium to discuss the project delays.

When it was announced that the 6 p.m. meeting would start 15 minutes late, an audience member yelled, "Let's get this thing going! We've waited long enough!"

Project delays started soon after work started on the $54.7 million project in March 2018. The project originally was scheduled to take about 21 months to complete.

“A lot of people think ODOT screwed up, but they didn’t screw up, we didn’t screw up,” Gillock said in an interview two days after the public meeting. “I think people were looking for a scapegoat, so ODOT said they screwed up (during the meeting on Nov. 19). But, a lot of people don’t understand, there’s a lot of moving parts to this and these projects take quite a bit of time.”

When the project began, the removal and replacement of utilities was an early obstacle because - by all accounts - Windstream Cable was unable to move and relocate its large cables before Jan. 1, 2018, according to Gillock and Luke Wysocki, engineer for ODOT’s District III.

But Windstream was unable to meet that deadline and no one seems to know why.

Calls made last week to Windstream to get their comment were not returned.

When Windstream did not do what it said it would do, Gillock said ODOT couldn’t just tell the project contractor to hold off until Windstream was done. The contractor also has to hire and pay employees, move equipment and purchase supplies, he said.

In the last two months, Windstream installed some of its cable, but still is working to complete its work.

Utility poles have been put in place along the north side of Ridge Road and near St. Peter’s Church, said Luke Wysocki, engineer for ODOT’s District III.

Poles and utilities at the intersection of State Route 83 and Ridge still need to be installed, Wysocki said.

“If we would’ve waited on Windstream, this project still would not have gotten started,” Gillock said.

The project is funded mostly by ODOT with federal funds funneled to the state. North Ridgeville is paying for about $5 million, and the costs of any delays, according to ODOT.

Now, as colder weather looms, most of the road paving will not get underway until the spring and summer, said Luke Wysocki, an ODOT engineer.

Then, in early 2020, the north and south sides of Center Ridge are expected to be completed including the sidewalk.

Other major portions expected to be completed in early 2020:

- The intersection of SR 83 and Center Ridge

- The realignment of Ridgeview Boulevard and Root Road

- The intersection of Jaycox Road and Center Ridge

- Infrastructure on the north side US 20

ODOT is estimating most of the major part of the project will be done by November 2020," Wysocki said. There may be some minor work left to finish in early 2021, but this will not involve major impacts to traffic, he said.

“When everyone does what they are supposed to, everything works like a well-oiled machine,” said Gillock, who made the project a key part of his years in office. “When they don’t you see the result,” Gillock said.

Contact this reporter at msakal@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797

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