MACEDONIA — Although it has taken a little more time than what city officials originally thought, the new access drive off Route 8 into the Crossings at Golden Link should become a reality within a few months.

Former Mayor Joseph Migliorini told the News Leader earlier this year that officials hoped for the drive to be completed by late summer, but current Mayor Nick Molnar said the process slowed down because of "a few snags."

City Law Director Mark Guidetti said the city is waiting for final confirmation from one tenant in the shopping center to agree to a monetary assessment which would be used to help pay for the project.

Once that confirmation is finalized, assessment amounts for all tenants will be determined and recommended to City Council. Objections to the amounts could be appealed to a board of revision.

"At this point, we’re not sure when the project will begin," Guidetti said. "It all depends on confirmation from the one tenant and whether the assessment amounts are accepted by all the tenants."

Last fall, the Ohio Department of Transportation issued a permit to go forward with construction of the curb cut into the shopping center.

The project is estimated to cost $509,000 and will be funded entirely by the assessments on the tenants. No city or state funds will be used.

The access drive will be placed between Chipotle Mexican Grill and the Great Escape, about 770 feet south of Route 82.

Because Route 8 is a divided highway in that area, the drive will be "right in and right out" only. Southbound motorists will be able to turn right into the center and right onto Route 8 southbound as they exit.

Migliorini told the News Leader late last year that the city had talked about a curb off Route 8 when the shopping center was first developed, but "politics closed the door on that." The center opened in 2004.

Migliorini had said traffic studies indicate about 45,000 cars a day pass through the Routes 8 and 82 intersection and about 10,000 years enter the Crossings at Golden Link.

ODOT’s permit allows a limited access fence to be removed at the access point. Stormwater drainage pipes will be installed and an approach / deceleration lane will be constructed according to ODOT specifications.

The access point will have a pavement width of 25 feet and a right-of-way width of 50 feet. The pavement will slope away from Route 8 and be constructed so no surface water can drain onto the highway.

During a Northfield Center-Macedonia Joint Economic Development District meeting in January, Township Trustee Paul Buescher and City Councilman Kevin Bilkie favored the long deceleration lane, saying it should prevent bottlenecks at the Routes 8-82 intersection.

The center consists of about 500,000 square feet of retail space. Among other major businesses are Giant Eagle, Target, Golden Corral, First Merit Bank and Chick-fil-A.

A new business planned near the access drive is Culver’s, a chain restaurant which will serve up Butterburgers and frozen custard. It will be located just north of the Great Escape.

"Culver’s is anxiously awaiting the outcome of the assessment process, because it is eager to get moving on its building project," said Molnar.

Culver’s owner Steve Skomski said the access drive off of Route 8 is important to his project. The restaurant plans to hire between 50 and 70 full-time team members.

"Because they’re going to put that curb cut in, we actually had to give up some of our property, but we were happy to do that because it’s going to benefit everybody in the shopping center, and us as well," Skomski said.

Skomski said Culver’s has six company-owned locations in Wisconsin known as "family restaurants" that are owned by the Culver family, plus another 650 restaurants owned by individual operators.

The Macedonia Culver’s would be the second one in Northeast Ohio; one opened earlier this year in Avon. Seating is planned for 80 to 90 people, with a total of about 26 tables.

Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400 Ext. 4189 or klahmers@recordpub.com