Sunday, May 11, 2003

Residents impatient with Mall connector

By Brenna R. Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FLORENCE - Though it may feel like summer outside, one reminder of winter still lingers: the unfinished road connecting Mall Road and Hopeful Church Road.

Because of weather delays over the winter, the much-anticipated road, which was supposed to be completed by Christmas, will not be open by the Fourth of July.

The $1.8 million road should be ready by mid-July, said Robin Curry, Boone County contracts administrator.

"It's very frustrating," Curry said, adding that several other county projects are also behind because of the winter weather.

The number of days the contractor could not work because of rain in the fall and winter were added onto the project this spring, pushing the completion date into the summer, he said.

"It's been a problem for us," County Administrator Jim Parsons said.

In addition to the weather delays, part of a curb that was installed this spring must be redone because it was built to the wrong elevation, he said.

Officials hope to open one segment - from Hopeful Church Road to the entrance of Windridge Townhomes and Hopeful Road - before the rest of the road opens.

"We'll focus on the two ends first," Parsons said. "Then we'll worry about the middle later."

That's good news to Windridge residents who have had to use a detour to get to their homes since September.

The 144-unit complex is at the north end of Hopeful Road, where it connected with Hopeful Church Road.

Since construction on the connector road began, that entrance has been blocked and residents have to use narrow Hopeful Road and a re-opened dead end at Hopeful Church Road to get to and from their homes.

The detour was supposed to last three months.

Windridge property manager Karen Franz said residents inquire every day about when the road will open.

Franz said she has called the engineering firm for the project several times and passed along the number for GRW Engineering to residents.

"I tell them to call; maybe the squeaky wheel will get some grease," she said.

GRW's representative for the project could not be reached for comment Friday.

Franz said she was excited workers began showing up a few weeks ago, but "they got some curbs in and then nothing," she said.

Like other residents off Hopeful Church Road, Franz said she and Windridge residents look forward to being able to get to Mall Road without using Ky. 18 or U.S. 42.

"It's going to be great when it's cut through," she said.

The yet unnamed connector road is expected to ease traffic on Ky. 18 and U.S. 42. The connector road runs 4,000 feet from Exchange Drive on Mall Road, behind Kroger on Mall Road and then connects to Cayton Road at Hopeful Church Road.

The south side of the road will have an 8-foot asphalt bike path separated from the road, Curry said. There will be a sidewalk from Mall Road extending about 1,000 feet to the Colonial Heights retirement community, he said.

The road is being built through a partnership between Boone County and the state, with the state paying $550,000 of the $1.8 million.


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