Candid With Camera – Part III

Part I is here , part II is here.

(We started talking about the plate tax.)

“The $5 license plate tax was imposed by Mayor Parker, and that was in 1981. I don’t know where everyone is getting 1988. And that $5 has always gone towards roads. Always been (that way). I could take it all the way back to 1981, I can show where all that money’s been spent. They say we can’t track it. I can track it through P.O.’s (purchase orders), I can track it through everything. Right now, there’s $150,000 going towards our share is going on Oberlin Avenue, it’s going on asphalt materials,… Fact is, there’s about $20,000 unencumbered right now, that I’m trying to hold back, to get us through the rest of this year. That $5 license plate (tax) goes toward that crappy winter mix we use. It’s stuff that you have to buy.

The problem with the roads in Lorain is the freeze-and-thaw cycle. The garbage trucks are not getting any smaller in this town. They’re getting bigger.”

Chuck made an observation about the garbage trucks that make their rounds throughout Lorain. Toward the forward part of the truck, by the cab, is something called a ‘cheater wheel.’ It’s usually up in the air. When the vehicle reaches a certain weight, that wheel, or set of wheels is supposed to descend, to help distribute the weight of the load, and lessen the wear and tear on the roads. He has yet to find a truck with the wheels down. The last truck that he saw, the rims were there, but the tires were not.

“That’s one day a week, every week, one of those trucks comes up and down our streets. On a street like yours, where you have a concrete curb and gutter, and asphalt street, it floats, it’s not hooked into anything. When it’s mushy…, (notice how all the curbs are staggered, they’re not even anymore), the trucks and even the school buses are up and down on the streets.”

When trying to patch holes, when it’s damp, it’s not simply a matter of ‘blow(ing) out the hole.” When it rained earlier this year, Tower Boulevard was under water for 3 days. “Dig a hole, and take the water out. See how fast the water comes back in at that time of year. The ground is saturated. I can blow all the water you want out. I told Tony, ‘I’ll put a guy out there, and put him on a roller. It’s only for show. The ground’s too wet, nothing in there’s going to last, it’s going to stay as long as if I had someone stand there and tap it.’ It’s just not going to happen. Hopefully we can get a week or two out of it, just to prevent flats and damage. People just don’t understand that.”

“In 1998, Congress passed a law that allowed vehicles to (become even heavier). How many of our roads meet that spec? How many roads were built prior to 1998 to meet that spec? Fact is, under the Koziura administration we tried to do Oak Point Road. We put it in at a certain depth, the concrete. We bolstered it pretty good. The residents fought us. They said they weren’t landing airplanes down there. We had to actually go from 9 inches to 8 inches, reduced it. We had to scale it back because they didn’t want what we initially designed out there. What happened out there? We had to scale it back because they didn’t want to pay for it. And, at the time, their spokesperson was Lori Kokoski.

“It’s not popular. Anytime that you tell people…. We could go through, right now, and reassess everybody. We can do that. Legally, we can do that, because you only get 20 years out of your street. Every 20 years you can go through a reassessment. Most people don’t understand that they’ve never been reassessed, they’ve paid a one-time assessment fee. And we’ve been picking up the cost… We could do a 50% assessment fee. There’s other ways of doing this. There really is, besides the license plates. It’s just who can pay, and how much do you want to pay?”

“There’s a lot of things that go into our streets that people don’t understand. What’s causing the damage? What’s doing the damage? Tony got a real eye-opener, I’m going to show it to you. Here’s a list of streets that we looked at. These are on nobody’s list right now. These are on nobody’s list.”

The spreadsheet is titled “City of Lorain Plate Tax Increase Projects”

Project                                Limits                             Type        Useful Life                 Constr/Eng Costs

Oberlin Ave                W. 30th to W Erie               Rehab              10                         $ 1,100,000
Washington Ave         N. Ridge Rd to W.37th           ”                    10                        $ 357,000
Clinton Ave                 E 42nd to S. Corp. Limit        “                    10                        $ 218,000
Pearl Ave                    E 36th to S. Corp Limit          “                    10                        $ 587,000
S. Broadway               Cooper Foster to “                  “                     10                        $ 182,000
Reid Ave.                    W. 21st to W. 5th St.              “                     10                       $ 738,000
Elyria Ave                  E 39th to E 21st St                  “                     10                       $ 769,000
Narragansett             Edgewood to West End           “                     10                       $ 750,000
SR 611 Colorado        W Corp Limit to Abbe         New                   20                      $1,000,000
Tower Blvd                Leavitt to Falbo                  Rehab                 10                       $1,500,000
Colorado                      E Erie to Henderson St.         “                     10                       $ 542,000
Oberlin Ave
       Engr Fees             N Ridge Rd to W 30th           “                     10                       $ 300,000
Jaeger Road
Improvement             Kolbe Rd to Leavitt             New                  20                       $4,000,000
Cooper Foster            Oberlin to Broadway          Rehab                10                       $ 350,000

                                                                                                    Subtotal = $12,393,000


21 thoughts on “Candid With Camera – Part III

  1. HOORAY the truth is finally coming out on the roads. As usual build them right in the first place and they last their allotted lifetimes … change the rules ( big trucks etc) and all bets are off. My favorite roller coaster ride used to he homewood drive heading to 57, this was typical of most concrete roads in Lorain … laid without the proper base … not compacted where needed etc … so the slabs shift, rock and roll. This can only be fixed by starting all over with a proper base. The second condition is poor concrete, bad mix, too wet, improper finish and it is spall city. It takes good specs and good inspection with no short cuts to do a road … been there, done that.

  2. Henrey,
    Looking over the “list of potential projects” I see that some of them have been in the loop for some time. I see Jaegar Road and the 4 million price tag is on the list and wasn’t the Lighthouse Village TIFF supposed to cover a majority of that cost and already “budgeted”?

    I know Tower and that 1.5 million dollar project was also in the loop. In fact, most of these projects look familiar and weren’t they already engineered and scheduled for some sort of round of state funding that we do every year?

    Every year we have been able to participate in programs like this where the State of Ohio doles out a majority of the funds, so I wonder what makes this year different? The question I have is if our city is so broke that we no longer can afford to dole out the matching funds to participate in state programs to fund projects that we have always relied on to make a majority of our road repairs?

  3. Dennis,
    All of the projects on the list are rehabs except for a couple. I don’t expect much more than a fresh coat of asphalt and new lines as the improvements are listed to last half as long as the new roads.

  4. Brian, I seem to recall that there are grants and funds available however ( and I am going from memory here which is shaky at best ) that they require “matching funds” from the city in a majority of cases and I believe at a recent council gathering it was mentioned that they were going to have to come up with more money for a matching grant the city received…. and there was concern as to where the city was going to get that money ….

    There is always more to the tale and everything isn’t always as simple as the sound bites on Lorain County and elsewhere make them out to be ….I know YOU know that 🙂

  5. I don’t know how they work it for cities but townships get gas tax money for roads (it is the only thing you can spend it on in Ohio). If you can get this it can provide the 20 for a 80/20 grant. Even then it would require $2,478,600 for the entire program listed above.

  6. I understand the matching funds part, but my question stems from the “Here’s a list of streets that we looked at. These are on nobody’s list right now. These are on nobody’s list.”

    I’ve seen and heard about most of these roads on the list. I believe most of the roads are on a list that the city turned into the state of Ohio back when either Foltin or Romoser was in office.

    I am not trying to spin anything here, but feel like someone is spinning me. Jeagar road was mentioned by I believe Sandy Prudoff as one of the improvements from the whole Lighthouse Village, westside blight study deal. I just think or wonder why we need the tax money to pay for Jaegar Road when I thought it was already being paid for by another “tax” that the city was getting instead of the schools? WHERE DID THAT “TAX MONEY GO”?

    Henrey stated in the second article that there was five hundred and seventy some lane miles of roads in Lorain. We are spending 5 million to “catch up” which looks like what we have been doing in most years that has gotten us behind and we are going to take $125,000.00 year and crack seal 30 lane miles of roadway per year to maintain what we have? A lane mile is quite a long way to spread out less than a dollar per foot only once for every ten years.

    I am not questioning the need to do something with our roads, just that I believe that the “plan” implies more than what it is.


    A buck a foot for every road once per ten years? If it costs four dollars a gallon for gas and the truck gets ten miles per gallon, forty cents per mile is already wasted going out and looking at the road without paying the driver…

    Does that open up anyones eyes yet?

  7. Just doing some reashearch myself from the Federal Highway cost estimates from Washington put general ballpark estimates of about $825.00 per year per lane mile for fixed (concrete roads) and about $1,800.00 per year per lane mile for flexible ( asphalt). These costs are from the day the improvements are made over about a thirty year span.

    The roads that are listed on the list are going to have to be maintained just like all of the other roads in our city, so the costs that are listed are just for today. If we don’t take care of them, they won’t last the ten years that the plan projects.

  8. I don’t know about a floor of engineers Brian, all I know is that the County Engineer offered to do the work on extending Tower Blvd and all the other road work that was on the list when I last attended a meeting on the road program. They were the coordinators of the grants and the engineering work … they do a great job and know how to find and squeeze the dollars.

  9. From quickly looking at that list it is the same list the Mayor Foltin had featured in his road way plan. The County engineer has an engineering bond program that will help defray the cost of designing roads, however the bond is at capacity because other cities and townships beat Lorain to the punch. The city entered into an agreement with the county last year for the planning for the Tower blvd extension but that will be it for a while unless the county expands the amount of money available. Engineering is also underway for the reconstruction of Jaeger to meet the higher traffic that is likely in the future. This is being payed for with the TIF that was placed on Lighthouse Village. The estimates were that the TIF would be generating enough money at full build out to cover the engineering and contstruction costs for Jaeger and some other small projects in the urban redevelopment area.

  10. Chuck and I were discussing the cost of doing Jaeger:
    “The numbers are in there from our previous contract work, what we paid per foot per lane mile. We put’em in and break’em down: this much for concrete, this much for asphalt, so then when we go into that system, we say ‘we need to do Jaeger from here to here’, and the system spits out a number based on previous contracts. It’s not like a whole lot of work went into this. The engineers that we use when we’re estimating for budget purposes or what we’re going to do, there’s nothing set in stone. (We just) determine what it’s going to cost us. And when we determine what we’re going to do, THAT’S when the field work goes in, that’s when we get hard numbers. Right now, those are just engineers’ estimates.
    “But Jaeger Road, there IS a TIFF for that. But we don’t know how much that TIFF’s going to generate. We know now how much it is to put in three lanes and pour the cement. So, if the TIFF generates $3 million, we’re going to be a million short. If the TIFF generates $4 million, we don’t have to worry about it. That’s all that was about.
    “The work on Tower, if you notice, it says that’s from Leavitt to Falbo. The Tower Blvd that everybody’s talking about is the extension from Elyria Ave to Falbo. That’s not on that list.
    “Some of those numbers we had to use from NOACA, and NOACA’s not funding any new projects ‘til 2011, because they’re broke. Things are tough all over. So there’s people thinking there’s this pot of gold, but it’s really not there.”
    (Also, as mentioned above, the plan is to make Jaeger 3 lanes, Kolbe Road, also. Jaeger was last done 7 years ago.)

  11. Sorry about being behind the last few days, trying to do some catch-up here. Goin’ back to one of Brian’s comments:

    Brian said:”Every year we have been able to participate in programs like this where the State of Ohio doles out a majority of the funds, so I wonder what makes this year different? The question I have is if our city is so broke that we no longer can afford to dole out the matching funds to participate in state programs to fund projects that we have always relied on to make a majority of our road repairs?”

    Chuck told me:”This year isn’t any different. We get about 800,000 from the Ohio public works program. By time we match that with 0 interest loans and gas tax funds it is a program that is about 1.2 million to 1.4 million.The loans need to be repaid and our first repayment to that loan was due this year at 300,000( money we really do not have). By comparison Amherst has a levy that does 1.2 million a year, and not including their involvement in OPWC. Amherst is doing as much or more than us with a fraction of the lane miles. Is it any wonder why our streets look (poor) in comparison to Amherst?”

  12. One more note from Chuck:

    The levy in Amherst is not forgiven. So if you work in Lorain and live in Amherst you pay Lorain 2% and still owe Amherst an additional 1/2 percent.

  13. I wish you would have asked Mr. Camera what is up with the ‘pave it then dig a big hole in it and patch it badly when we’re done’ program that this city has always seemed to participate in.
    Prime example? The intersection of Broadway & 6th in front of the Palace. All that fancy brick looking stuff they did last summer, only to dig holes in it & patch it badly this summer.

  14. What I can tell you about the bad spots in front of the Palace is that there was a water main break Tuesday night late? (Tony K was even out there) and they dug some holes to find the source.

    I drove by there the other day and it is a bad sight with the surrounding road carved the way it is. I’m sure Chuck’s aware of the situation, but I’ll make sure to mention it when next I talk to him.

  15. That’s not the only location, though. Every time we go thru a road repaving/resurfacing project, it’s just a matter of time before the city comes back and destroys part of it. Why don’t they do whatever they gotta do underground while the road is torn up? They’ve done it to 21st and they’ve done it to West Erie & East Erie, too. They’ve even done it to a number of the side streets. How about some communication? Planning? Working together for the common good? Geez.
    Thanks for the info about Broadway & 6th. I was planning to get some pics and WTF ’em at my place. Now I won’t.

  16. Busters Momma the problem is especially in my old neighbhood we are dealing with underground infrastructure that can be over 100 years old in some places ( we have a brick sewer running down by Irving and even the newer like 50 year old and 30 year old infrastructure is under pressure to fail … and when it does OH boy .I was told the force of the break on Broadway literally washed all the soil from the trees in the streetscape…. a mess.. making everything pretty pretty without fixing the basics underneath first .. .it is like perfuming a corpse
    eventually the stinking flesh over powers the scent of lilacs……

    But government entities have been told ( by those that get them re elected) time and time again spend the money for the population to see make the visuals happen ( looks like your are doing something)

    Brian Hazelett I remember got up in council chambers when this 650.000 project ( federal money I believe) was presented by Foltin to council and everyone was happy happy asked what will happen to the pretty stamping when the infrastructure underneath goes will we have money to fix it and re do???? I don’t recall he ever got an answer Loraine

  17. Neither have I.

    I just wonder if the request for the accounting of attorney fees that the city has spent will ever be provided also?

    So much for freedon of information…

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