Closed Olmsted Falls bridge fueling safety, emergency concerns among residents

Closed Olmsted Falls bridge fueling safety, emergency concerns among residents

OLMSTED FALLS, OH (WOIO) - A broken down, closed bridge along East River Road in Olmsted Falls is the major obstacle that stands in the way of close to a dozen homeowners living along the road of having easy access to their homes.

As an alternative, homeowners have been using an emergency access road that is also in disrepair. A road off of Northwood Drive, covered in gigantic potholes filled with muddy water, is the only way homeowners can get to their properties.

The city says they won’t fix the potholes in the access road, because East River Road residents really aren’t supposed to be using it.

Ruby Haun says she rarely leaves her house because the road is so bad.

“I don’t take my car through it because the last drug the bottom of it because it’s so low. I haven’t had it out since,” said Haun.

Homeowners that live up against the access road have been complaining about the traffic.

The road conditions have proven to not only be bad for people's cars, but deadly over the past several years.

Haun says in 2007, her 42-year-old son Larry had a heart attack and died. What makes her heartbreak worse is knowing that Olmsted Falls EMS crews had a hard time getting to her home. Emergency crews said they couldn't get their equipment across the bridge, and the emergency access road, at the time, was locked.

"We waited and we waited, and so I guess when they got back there, they forgot the keys, and it took them forever," said Haun.

Seven years later, EMS help was delayed again - this time for Haun's husband. Her husband later died at the hospital.

Olmsted Falls Mayor, James Patrick Graven says that pending litigation prevents him from saying much, but his office released a statement saying:

"The comments must be limited in view of litigation that continues to pend regarding a City Council ordinance which provided for a 12 way sharing of the cost to renovate the bridge. The City had agreed to accept 1/12th of the cost along with the 11 affected property owners who required use of the bridge as access to their residential properties. The ordinance was passed in July, 2017, and one of the property owners who opposed the councilmatic action, pursued litigation. In turn, the City had allowed access through a safety vehicle easement which existed between two residential properties on Northwood Drive, so that the property owners would be able to drive through the easement to get to their properties. This easement is and was never intended to be an ongoing access road, as it was understood that it would be for short term access only. The Mayor has received complaints from the Northwood residents regarding the easement access, as this easement runs within a few feet of the residences, and the noise and the traffic has become unbearable. It must be recognized by all the parties that the city has stood ready and willing to assist in repairing the bridge as a benefit to this specific population in the community. Unfortunately, the opposition as mentioned, remains as a roadblock to moving forward with this project."

It’s unclear when there will be a resolution.

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