Some think the project would reduce traffic jams; others say it's a waste of money.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
MINERAL RIDGE -- Residents and business people here say they aren't surprised to learn that the Ohio Department of Transportation wants to widen and improve state Route 46. They said they will be surprised, however, when work starts on the road.
"I've been hearing this for 20 some years ... there's still no work being done," said Alan Stark, who owns a rental property on the road. "They've postponed it now for 23 years."
Stark was one of about 200 local residents, many from Mineral Ridge, who attended an ODOT meeting about the project Wednesday night at Mineral Ridge High School. Several residents said they've heard several rumors that ODOT was going to widen the road in the past.
Mike Mousie, who owns the Ice House Inn at the corner of Webb Road and Route 46, said he's heard the rumors "since he was a kid."
ODOT wants to widen and improve Route 46 between Blunt and Seaborn streets in Mineral Ridge. Funding for the project has not been obtained. Route 46 has two lanes in Mineral Ridge.
Edward Deley Jr., an environmental coordinator for ODOT, said the schedule for the work won't be set until funding is available.
Plans for Austintown
ODOT also is planning to widen Route 46 from New Road to Silica Road in Austintown. That project also calls for the department to resurface the road and install drainage improvements, traffic signal upgrades, sidewalks, pavement markings and signs.
The work is expected to cost about $6 million and start in spring 2005.
Plans for both projects were on display Wednesday night. Several ODOT officials also attended the meeting to answer questions from local residents.
Route 46 resident Joyce Kellner said many of the officials couldn't fully answer her questions about the project. She added that she was worried that ODOT wouldn't leave enough space for sidewalks between buildings on Route 46 and the widened road.
"We should be entitled to sidewalks," Kellner said.
Deley and ODOT environmental specialist Noel Mehlo Jr. said most residents asked about the project schedule. Deley added that some residents also asked how close the widened road would be to their homes and businesses.
Stark said he wasn't sure why ODOT discussed the Mineral Ridge project when a date hasn't been set for the work to start. Both Stark and Tim McNeil, who runs a business near Route 46 in Mineral Ridge, added that they think the improvements are needed.
McNeil said that by widening Route 46 and adding a turning lane, ODOT could eliminate some of the traffic jams caused by cars turning left from the road.
Mousie, however, said he didn't think ODOT should foot the bill for widening the road when the installation of a few, cheaper traffic lights in Mineral Ridge would help reduce traffic jams.
Route 46 resident Shirley Shonk also said that ODOT shouldn't spend money to widen the road. She said she worries that the widening would encourage drivers to speed and hurt Mineral Ridge's small-town atmosphere.
"They would wipe out Mineral Ridge, and I think Mineral Ridge is a nice town," she said.