STRONGSVILLE, Ohio (WJW) – Residents from two Northeast Ohio communities are banding together to put the brakes on a planned highway project.
They are protesting the building of a new interchange, designed to relieve traffic congestion, but they say the project will literally destroy some homes and harm their community.
Several dozen people stood at the busy intersection of Pearl Road and Route 82 in Strongsville Tuesday evening.
Their message to passing drivers? Oppose a new Interstate 71 highway interchange planned for Boston Road, which marks the border of Strongsville in Cuyahoga County and Brunswick in Medina County.
“My house will probably be one of the ones taken away or I’ll be living right next to a ramp. I’m upset because we had no say in this. It was forced on us,” said Strongsville resident Sherri Hamm.
SKYFOX gives a clearer picture of what Boston Road at I-71 looks like now, but the city of Strongsville has submitted several proposals to ODOT to turn this into an interchange to alleviate heavy traffic further north at I-71 and Route 82.
The proposal would call for several homes, at least a dozen, some say, to be removed by eminent domain.
“If the proposal goes through, I would probably still have a home, but I would be living right on the corner of a ramp, so the quality of life and the environment that I’m used to having will be gone. Many of my neighbors will be losing their homes,” said Brunswick resident Mary Vantz.
“It’s going to bring crime to our city. We’ve got safety issues with the pipelines that have to be moved. It’s just an all-around bad idea,” said Hamm.
“What you’re hearing from is the people who don’t want the interchange. What we haven’t heard from is all the people that do want the interchange. The majority of them prefer the interchange,” said Strongsville Mayor Thomas Perciak.
Mayor Perciak says the ramp is needed for traffic safety. He says studies have been presented to ODOT for review.
“ODOT will then inform us to what their decision is as to what the current remediation might be,” the mayor said.
Brunswick City Council president Nicholas Hanek says Strongsville officials did not have meaningful discussions with them about the proposal.
“This kind of event and this kind of attention will continue, and then everything will continue until we stop the project cold,” said Hanek.
“We would hope from all these studies that there would be a resolution to this, acceptable to both communities,” said Mayor Perciak.
Mayor Perciak says there is no timetable on when a design plan would be approved or when construction on the project would begin.
Affected residents say they are not giving up. Several attended a Strongsville city council meeting Tuesday night to voice their concerns.
Although Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has given a green light to the project, the vice-president of Brunswick City Council tells us residents may go to Columbus to urge the state legislature to remove the project from the bill the governor signed.