Posted with permission from Record Courier: https://www.record-courier.com/news/20190124/flooding-again-closes-route-303-in-streetsboro

Route 303 was closed on the west end of Streetsboro for the better part of 2018.

Broadly, the section of the state route between the center of Streetsboro and Stone Road was closed beginning in April to all but local traffic and was completely reopened in late November during a large construction project. On Wednesday night it closed again, this time because of flooding.

Last year, the Ohio Department of Transportation and the city of Streetsboro paid a total of $2.4 million to install a new 87-inch by 63-inch culvert at the Tinkers Creek channel and raise the depressed section of the road near the Route 303 bypass to help prevent flooding, according to Brent Kovacs, a public information officer with the Ohio Department of Transportation’s District 4 office.

Although there was flooding in the western section of the project area this week, Mayor Glenn Broska said the culvert has helped reduce the frequency and duration of flooding.

“There was a series of three culverts, and the most western culvert was completely clogged with sticks and everything else in there,” he said. “The second culvert was a little bit more than 75 percent clogged, and the first was about 25 percent clogged. It’s like having bad arteries. Stuff can’t get through there.”

The original plan had been to install a new culvert and raise both flood-prone sections of roadway, a solution Broska said would reduce flooding events to a trickle. The plan was projected to have a 50-year lifespan before additional major construction was necessary, not including routine maintenance and repaving, according to ODOT District 4 Engineer Thomas Powell, speaking in 2014. At that time, the projected cost was $4.7 million.

But the project changed.

According to Kovacs, the section of road between Jefferson Street and the railroad tracks could not be compressed then raised, due to a rare habitat area. The process would have been the same as that used near the bypass, which did not flood Thursday.

“Basically, what was limiting us out there was a fen wetland,” he explained. “It’s a pristine wetland, and that prevented us from doing anything very drastic. There was a crazy amount of water moving around yesterday. We had 12 to 14 inches of snow and then 24 hours of rain and 50 degrees.”

The fact the area of Route 303 by the bypass didn’t flood is a testament to the effectiveness of raising the road, he added.

“What was there would flood in a one-year rain event,” Kovacs explained. “We increased that to a 25-year rain event. The whole goal was to lower the flooding. If it didn’t flood this past week by the bypass, that’s pretty good.”

Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, bgaetjens@recordpub.com or @bobgaetjens_rpc.