Rebuilding Meridian Road will ease motorists’ tensions


To all you frazzled motorists who wonder how your cars will fare in the obstacle course that is Meridian Road, take heart. Help is on the way. Indeed, the good news about a major improvement project for a section of the road comes with an added bonus: The price tag could be about $700,000 less than Youngstown city government estimated.

Work on Meridian Road from Mahoning Avenue to the Interstate 680 ramps is scheduled to begin in mid-April and take six months to complete.

The Youngstown Board of Control awarded the contract at its March 16 meeting to the low bidder, Marucci & Gaffney Excavating of Youngstown. The company, which has handled quite a few projects in the city, submitted a bid of $3,427,831 for replacement of a waterline, street resurfacing, new storm sewers and curb upgrades.

The city’s cost estimate was $4.1 million.

There were three other bidders: SET Inc. of Lowellville, $3,944,390; J.S. Bova Excavating of Struthers, $3,957,413; A.P. O’Horo Co. of Liberty, $3,968,000.

When the bids were opened, Charles Shasho, deputy director of public works for the city, offered this observation: “There’s a lot of tabulations and we have to check the math, but it’s a good price.”

Yes, it is – given all the work that will be undertaken.

“The road on both sides is in pretty bad shape,” said Mayor John A. McNally, a member of the board of control. “Business owners have complained about the condition of the road and are happy it’s getting done. It’s a main corridor for the city, for Austintown Township and the county as a whole.”

Meridian Road won’t be closed during the construction, which shows just how important it is.

Most drivers, especially those who have had their fillings knocked out, will welcome the inconvenience.

As we said in an editorial in 2014 when Mahoning County commissioners talked about the reconstruction of Meridian:

“Anyone who uses Meridian Road North on a regular basis is familiar with the maneuvering that occurs as drivers try to find the least bumpy way. It is particularly evident as drivers approach the exit of I-680. The section was so torn up earlier this year that for months cars swung from the median lane into the right lane to access the exit.”

MORE IMPROVEMENTS PLANNED

There are two other phases in the Meridian Road project that Mahoning County government will handle: Canfield Road to Mahoning Avenue, to be done this year at an estimated cost of $2.5 million; and, the section from the I-680 ramps to the county line, which will probably be undertaken next year.

In 2014, county commissioners approved a preliminary study for a $12 million to $15 million three-phase reconstruction of Meridian Road from the Mahoning- Trumbull line south to Cornersburg.

The county project will include repaving of the road, utility and intersection upgrades and storm-sewer upgrades.

Commissioners have said that this is a long-term proposition, not only because of the length of the road but the work that needs to be done.

Commissioner David Ditzler, a former Austintown Township trustee, said in 2014 that he and his colleagues, Anthony Traficanti and Carol Rimedio-Righetti, would use the county’s share of state gambling revenue to match money from the federal government and county funds for the project.

“It’s in horrible condition,” county Engineer Patrick Ginnetti said of the main business corridor that divides Youngstown and Austintown and connects with I-680 and I-80.

Motorists who regularly use Meridian would agree with the county engineer.

“There’s a lot of industry growth off of Salt Springs Road,” Ginnetti said during an interview with The Vindicator in 2014. “There’s a lot of commerce moving up and down that road.”

But given the fact that the deterioration of Meridian Road has been a topic of discussion in city and county governments for a long time, frustrated drivers would have been quick to dismiss what the county commissioners and engineer had said.

Fortunately, the long wait is just about over. Once the heavy equipment starts showing up, the frustration of drivers will begin to ease.

To see will be to believe – after all the time you’ve spent negotiating the obstacle course that is Meridian Road.

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