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STOW -- A nearly $50-million reconstruction project along Route 8 over the next few years is expected to include relief for residents tired of noise.
Brent Kovacs, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation's District 4 office in Akron, said the 5.5-mile highway reconstruction from Route 303 in Hudson to Graham Road in Stow, is to include 3,600 feet of sound walls on the road's west side between Seasons and Steels Corners roads.
Specifically, the 14-foot walls will start 2,800 feet north of Hampshire Road and extend to 800 feet south of Hampshire, acting as a barrier between the highway and the Wyoga Lake Estates residential development.
District 4 spokesman Justin Chesnic said in late April that ODOT is expected to award the $48.5 million reconstruction project to a contractor in mid-2018, with ODOT hoping completion will be around the end of 2020. It is to include a complete rebuild of the highway down to the soil, miscellaneous bridge work and traffic lights on Seasons Road at the entrance and exit ramps on both sides of the Route 8 overpass.
That stretch of Route 8 has been in need of reconstruction for some time and last year, ODOT did about $1 million in repairs as a stopgap until the full reconstruction project was funded and ready to go.
Kovacs said he did not know how much the sound walls by themselves would cost. He also said it is uncertain when during the course of the overall project the walls would be constructed.
"That's up to the awarded contractor to determine the schedule of the project," said Kovacs.
Stow City Councilor Bob Adaska, who represents Ward 4, including Wyoga Lake Estates, said the sound walls have been "long coming."
"Residents in Wyoga Lake Estates had hoped that this project would be budgeted sooner," said Adaska. "But all things considered, there's a lot of other projects going on in the state of Ohio. We just have to be patient and wait until the project comes forward."
Several years ago, Adaska walked the neighborhood and got 110 residents to sign a petition, a necessary step in getting the sound walls.
Wyoga Lake residents have said that the noise levels have increased substantially since the highway underwent major work to the north to convert it into a limited access highway less than a decade ago. Also a factor, residents have said, was the construction of the Seasons Road interchange just to the north in about 2010, which increased truck traffic to and from the industrial area around Seasons.
"The residential development that adjoins the expressway has experienced an increase in noise over the last few years due to the deterioration of the S.R. 8 expressway and the tremendous increase in volume of traffic due to the major completion of S.R. 8 being a limited access highway north of S.R. 303," Stow City Engineer Jim McCleary wrote in a July 2013 letter to ODOT.
At the time, ODOT said that a noise study conducted on Route 8 at Seasons Road in 2006, which projected conditions to 2030, indicated that sound walls were not justified. However, Kovacs said ODOT did a follow-up noise study in 2014 in the area a little to the south of Seasons, which determined that "noise walls are warranted in the area that they're going to be built as part of the State Route 8 job."
Adaska said Wyoga Lake residents have had the opportunity to view proposed plans for the sound walls, including at public informational meetings, and comment on them.
"I know the residents are looking forward to a little bit of resolution for not only the sound, but the vibration," he said. "Some of those homes are so close to the fence line it impedes their property and their property values."
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