NILES State stops all traffic light plans, holding up 13-signal project

The city is to upgrade traffic signals and loop them together with a control center in city hall.
NILES -- A statewide moratorium on traffic signal work has put a city project on hold indefinitely.
Last month, council passed an ordinance authorizing the administration to advertise for bids and enter a contract to upgrade 13 signals, loop them together and install a control center in city hall.
City officials hoped to advertise for bids this month.
Mark Hess, coordinator of engineering, grants and development, said the Ohio Department of Transportation, which must give the OK, has delayed the project.
"The director has issued a moratorium for all locally let signal projects for the state," said Jennifer Richmond, a spokeswoman for ODOT's District 4 office in Ravenna.
Hess said he hopes to get the go-ahead to proceed from the department by the end of this month.
More oversight: Brian Cunningham, ODOT communications director, said the department is working with the Federal Highway Administration to set the procedures for ODOT establishing more oversight in signal projects.
"In our quality assurance review that we conducted once the projects close we've found some trends that revealed some of the studies for traffic signals weren't complete or had some things missing," he said. "We want to make sure federal funds aren't lost."
Traffic studies are typically done to determine whether intersections warrant signals. Cunningham doesn't believe the problem came from one company and said ODOT encountered a variety of problems with projects around the state.
The hold on the projects was issued in late November, he said.
The city received a $1 million federal highway grant administered by the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments for the project.
Burgess and Niple of Columbus was hired for about $70,000 to design it.

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