BRUNSWICK, Ohio (WJW) — Some relief could be coming to help with rush hour traffic at Interstate 71 in Strongsville — only the proposed solution has two cities at odds and some Brunswick homeowners worried construction could force the sale of homes.
“I think it’s catastrophic,” said Brunswick City Council President Nick Hanek. “I don’t think there’s any other way to look at it. We are currently asking the governor to line-item veto this. He has not currently signed the bill yet.”
A proposal to construct an interchange on I-71 between Strongsville and Brunswick between exists 225 and 231 passed as part of House Bill 23 and awaits the signature of Gov. Mike DeWine.
State Rep. Thomas Patton, a Republican representing Strongsville, co-sponsored the bill and said it will help alleviate heavy traffic flow.
“There’s six miles between those two cities, both route 82 and 303, which is the largest length in distance in the entire interstate system between two urban areas,” said Patton. “There’s still so much traffic. The traffic on 71 backs up almost at times to the turnpike exit. … This, we believe, will help the residents of both Strongsville and Brunswick.”
Hanek said the interchange would likely be built at Boston Road, a residential area, leading to land acquisition through eminent domain, decreased property values and heavy truck traffic. He said Brunswick could be put in a position to pay for construction of an unwanted interchange.
“While this bill says [the Ohio Department of Transportation] would be obligated to pay for the interchange it doesn’t say ODOT is obligated to pay for anything else and, typically, cities are on the hook to have to expand Boston Road,” said Hanek.
Matthew Beres is a longtime homeowner on Boston Road and said he is worried about the approval of the interchange and what it signals for the stability of the residential area.
“We have three boys, three little boys. This is their childhood home,” said Beres. “We raised all three here since they were babies. I built a pool, a deck. … Fair market value of eminent domain, or whatever, doesn’t cover the sentimental.”
Nearby homeowner Shrea Kellums shared a similar view on the situation.
“If they have this problem, they need to put the ramp somewhere in Strongsville,” said Kellums. “I don’t know if I will have a house after this.”
Patton said the governor is expected to sign the bill into law Friday.
“Clearly, there’s going to have to be some land and properties taken. That’s eminent domain for the greater good, is what that would stand for,” said Patton.
Patton is also chair of the Finance Subcommittee on Transportation and said the bill requires an interchange every four-and-a-half miles if two cities with the population of at least 35,000 people are in different counties and one of those counties has a population size of more than 1 million people.
“The only project in the state that would qualify for this would be an interchange between Strongsville and Brunswick,” said Patton.