Strongsville City Council may hire New Albany engineering firm to design roundabout at Howe & Shurmer roads

November 6, 2018 GMT

Strongsville City Council may hire New Albany engineering firm to design roundabout at Howe & Shurmer roads

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio – The city administration has chosen EMH&T, a New Albany engineering firm, to design a proposed roundabout at Howe and Shurmer roads, just south of Ohio 82 and SouthPark Mall.

However, City Council still must vote whether to approve the contract with EMH&T, and whether even to move forward with the proposed roundabout.

On Monday, council placed the EMH&T contract on first reading. Council President Joe DeMio said council will give the contract three public readings so that residents have time to comment.

DeMio said council will likely vote on the contract, and whether to proceed with the roundabout project, at its Dec. 3 meeting.

Under the proposed contract, the city would pay EMH&T $141,415 to design the roundabout. The estimated cost of construction is $1 million.

City Engineer Ken Mikula said an engineering-firm selection committee, consisting of city staff and Councilman Matt Schonhut, interviewed eight firms for the roundabout project. The firms had submitted qualifications and proposals to the city in August.

“The committee liked (EMH&T’s) experience in designing roundabouts, their initial letter of intent and their presentation,” Mikula told cleveland.com Monday night.

Mikula added that the committee was impressed with EMH&T’s plan to present its design to residents and educate the public about roundabouts. EMH&T addressed public involvement in its Aug. 10 proposal letter.

“We have successfully presented public education materials for over a dozen roundabout projects, including several that were a ‘first’ for a community, most recently, the city of Piqua,” EMH&T said.

“Our toolbox includes presentations, easy-to-understand exhibits and general roundabout education materials,” the firm said. “In addition, we have successfully produced 3D renderings for the events, as the visualizations provide a clear image of the proposed improvements.”

In its proposal, EMH&T said it has “managed, studied and-or designed 45 roundabouts over the past 10 years with 21 constructed” in Ohio, including those in Grove City, Dublin, Hilliard, Columbus, Delaware, Westerville, Canal Winchester, Upper Arlington and Athens.

“Our engineers have the most up-to-date roundabout training and a host of lessons from solving unique challenges for a variety of Ohio communities,” the firm said in its proposal.

EMH&T said that although the city is planning a single-lane roundabout, it should allow room for two lanes in case there is a need to expand the roundabout in the future.

Four-phase process

In an Oct. 24 letter to the city, sent after EHM&T had been selected, the firm said the roundabout would include crosswalks and curb-cut ramps for pedestrians and streetlights. Landscaping would help manage driver lines of sight.

Also, the intersection’s existing drainage system would need modification due to the roundabout. EHM&T said it would provide the city storm-water options.

Since the city would partly close the intersection during construction, EHM&T would help draft a traffic-maintenance plan, including detours.

EHM&T said its process is divided into four phases. The first is a planning phase, the third involves environmental engineering, which considers storm water and lighting, and the fourth is the final-engineering phase.

The second phase, preliminary engineering, includes public involvement. EHM&T would present its design to residents and answer questions. A second public meeting would teach residents how to navigate the roundabout.

The city can opt to involve EHM&T during construction phase but that would require a separate contract. If the city ultimately decides against a roundabout, the firm can help decide which direction would take, but it might cost more, EHM&T said.

Traffic problem

City officials have viewed Howe-Shurmer as a traffic problem for several years. Howe runs north to south and connects Ohio 82 and Interstate 71 to the southern part of Strongsville and northern Brunswick.

Both Howe and Shurmer, which dead-ends into Howe west to east, are two-lane residential streets, although Howe widens near Ohio 82. Residents living in the Howe-Shurmer area have complained about traffic speeding through their neighborhoods.

Also, northbound cars turning left onto Shurmer hold up through-traffic on Ohio 82, and sometimes crashes occur as pressured drivers make hurried turns.

At a June 14 meeting of council’s Planning, Zoning and Engineering Committee, Lori Daley, Strongsville’s assistant city engineer, said that a February study by Euthenics Inc., a Cleveland engineering firm, showed that a roundabout would reduce congestion and improve safety at Howe-Shurmer.

So City Council authorized the administration to seek qualifications and proposals from engineering firms for the project. The vote in June was 6-1, with Councilwoman Ann Roff dissenting.

According to minutes of the June 18 council caucus, Roff repeated her earlier concerns that residents living near the proposed roundabout might have trouble pulling in and out of their driveways.

Also, Roff said she reviewed a 2014 Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency traffic study -- completed before she was appointed to council in January -- which recommended a traffic study of the entire Howe corridor, not just one intersection. She said the larger study was never done.