Contributing Writer

Spring? Some people look for telltale signs of spring with the coming and going of certain birds in the area. Others look at the poking through of certain spring flowers. For North Royalton Service Director, Nick Cinquepalmi, the sign comes in the form of the opening of the hot asphalt plant. He has been in contact with the plant and was happy to hear that they planned to open this week, weather permitting. “They really do want to get going,” said Cinquepalmi. “We want to get these roads fixed. It’s been a bad winter.”Pot holes caused by snow and ice can wreak havoc on our vehicles.

The North Royalton Service Department has been steadily trying to attack the pot- holes and damage that this winter has caused with cold patch, but the use of hot asphalt is more of a permanent type of fix. “It’s a better fix,” said Cinquepalmi. “We don’t like to use the cold patch when we can use the hot patch. Service Department crews have also been busy cleaning up the roads of the debris left by winter, as well as assess the overall condition. “I think we’re coming out in pretty good shape. Those roads that were done last year with concrete, asphalt and crack sealing have done well.”

At this point, the Service Department’s budget for road repair is about $150,000, comparable to that of last year. Since the work is done in-house, the budget covers the material of concrete, asphalt, cold patch, stone and crack sealing material. Cinquepalmi said that although crack sealing is expensive, it’s worth the cost. “We have been hitting it hard with the crack sealing because it preserves the life of the road.”

City Engineer Mark Schmitzer is in charge of road replacement in the city. Currently his budget for this year is $600,000 for road replacement, an increase from over $400,000 last year. About six to seven percent of that amount goes toward planning and engineering costs. Schmitzer, Cinquepalmi and Mayor Bob Stefanik will be discussing the budget for road repair and replacement and the possibility of increasing those budgets. That possibility is dependent upon income tax receipts. If the receipts are up, they may have the ability to increase those budgets. Since one percent of the budget is to primarily go toward road and stormwater work, the city has the flexibility to direct the money, dependent upon need. “In the last year, we’ve shifted the priority to roads, as we did a lot of stormwater work prior to that,” said Schmitzer.

Other than the usual potholes and winter damage, the city has been looking at damage being done by the mail carriers who drive on the berm of the road to deliver the mail. Rather than pull out after each mail box, the trucks drive from box to box on the berm, which is causing ruts in the berm. Those ruts fill with the water that should be directed down the road. Instead, the water pools in the ruts and seeps underneath the roadway, causing the street to deteriorate at an accelerated rate.

Stefanik brought the matter up at a recent City Council Streets Committee meeting. The city has been in communication with the North Royalton Post Office, said Schmitzer, who said that the matter has to do with safety. He said that they recommended that the city introduce legislation that would direct homeowners to place the mailboxes closer to the road. At this time, there is no directive from either the Postal Service or the city.