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If it seems like there are a lot more contractors doing work in Ravenna these days, that's because there are.
Throughout the city, motorists are likely to run into lane restrictions, orange barrels and steamrollers making city streets a little smoother.
Mayor Frank Seman said it's all part of an effort to address the city's infrastructure needs and literally pave the way for new development.
"If you're going to bring in additional development, you need to have your infrastructure in place," he said.
Perrin Asphalt has launched full swing into the city's annual paving program. The $607,000 worth of projects will address paving, crack sealing and chip and seal a total of 34 streets in Ravenna this year, made possible by using a full year of collection from an income tax voters approved in 2015. Perrin also put a new coat of asphalt on East Riddle Avenue, between New Milford Road and Liberty Street. A state grant obtained via the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study provided 80 percent of the $250,000 project, with the city providing 20 percent of the work in matching funds.
Work also is expected to begin soon on a water line on East Main Street. The city has received funds from the Ohio Public Works Commission to replace the water system on East Main between Freedom and Walnut Streets. The project will begin soon and most of the work is expected to be completed by the end of 2017. Contractors and city officials will meet with affected property owners at 7 p.m. on July 18 at City Hall, 210 Park Way.
Contractors from the Ohio Department of Transportation also began work recently on a northbound left turn lane at the intersection of S.R. 44 and Enterprise Parkway. The $450,000 project will construct a northbound left turn lane from S.R. 44 to the industrial park at Enterprise Parkway. Ravenna City Engineer Bob Finney recently said a federal highway safety grant is paying 90 percent of the cost of the project, with the city picking up the remaining 10 percent. As part of the project, Finney said, ODOT will install a new traffic signal at no cost to the city.
The city also is partnering with the Portage County Engineer's office for work in the area of Peck Road and Lovers Lane, roads that run from the city limits into Ravenna Township.
The city and Neighborhood Development Services also agreed to partner on an application for a Critical Infrastructure Grant to pave roads in the "Wichterman's Jones Allotment." Originally, the project was to address streets off Jones Avenue in Northwest Ravenna, including Morgan Road, Brush Road and Louise Street. Later, however, that project was expanded to address Scranton Street, Mechanic Avenue, Park Avenue and Beech Street. Critical Infrastructure funds have been used in the past to pay for such major projects as Cleveland Road, Ravenna Avenue, North Freedom Street and the Fairgrounds Allotment.
An upgrade of power lines also is taking place along West Main Street from the city into the township. That project is being done by First Energy, not the city or township, but Ravenna motorists must dodge the barrels all the same.
Seman said some people have asked him why the city applies for so many grant projects, saying the roads should be paved using levy funds. It's a question that puzzles him because, he said, the grants allow the city to address road projects it might not otherwise be able to afford.
"We've got roads in our city that are state routes," he said. "The grants allow us to get to these roads more quickly, and we get a better project out of it."