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Residents frustrated by huge hole left by bridge collapse in Summit County

Posted at 5:05 PM, Feb 10, 2020

NORTON, Ohio — Phyllis Osborne is getting tired of the growing hole on Kungle Road near her New Franklin home where she has lived for 17 years.

"It's just been a very big headache for a lot of people in this area," said Osborne, who is a bus driver for Norton Schools.

The Kungle Road bridge, or culvert, started to fail and was closed to traffic last May. In June, heavy rains washed it away. Eight months have passed and some residents are becoming increasingly irritated by the size of the hole-- which some neighbors are starting to call a chasm or a canyon-- and that there still isn't any real plan to fix the bridge that sat on the Norton/New Franklin border.

"Here it is February. I don't understand why it's not fixed yet," Osborne said. "It's a through road. It needs to be fixed."

Osborne said she's frustrated by detours she's forced to take and also worries that a curious child could fall down the hole and into rushing water.

New Franklin Mayor Paul Adamson said part of the reason for the long delay was initial confusion as to who is responsible for paying for the repairs-- Summit County or one of the cites.

"It has been way too long that these people have been inconvenienced quite frankly," Adamson said. "If I lived there, I wouldn't want to hear all that. I'd just want to know when are you going to open this road again?"

Adamson said after a lot of research and discussion, it was determined that the bridge was in Norton's territory, so New Franklin is unable to take the next steps to begin a project.

"Our situation in New Franklin, it's not our bridge. We don't have the authority to do that because it turns out it's Norton's Bridge," he said.

Summit County Engineer Alan Brubaker said his office is working with the cities to agree on a long-term plan for Kungle Road.

"The County Engineer and the County Executive have signed a memorandum of understanding with the cities where each entity agrees to support efforts to finding funding for any potential project," Brubaker said. "The previous structure was not on the county's inventory of bridges or culverts and similar structures throughout the county are the responsibility of the municipality they are located in."

News 5 messages left at Norton City Hall seeking comment, but did not hear back as of late Monday afternoon.

However, City Administrator Robert Fowler told The Akron Beacon Journal that the city is in a hold pattern and hoping to get some funding for a project to fix the road.

Adamson said his city requested an estimate for the project and was given a price tag of $150,000.

He said New Franklin wants to be a "good neighbor" and is willing to contribute some money towards a fix, but believes the rest should come from the budgets of Norton and Summit County and possible other agencies.

"It's our intent to get this opened as soon as practically possible. I wish I had a magic number, but I don't."

In the meantime, Osborne said she's fed up with excuses and talk. She believes the time for action is long overdue.

"It's very annoying. You just don't feel like you get the right answers at times, or anytime."