LIMA —It’s ugly now, and it won’t be pretty through construction. But after, the new bridge and roundabout intersection at Shawnee and Fort Amanda roads will be safer and more efficient, Allen County Chief Deputy Engineer Brion Rhodes said Friday.
Speaking at the monthly Allen County Republican Party lunch, Rhodes said the $7.5 million project is kicking off with right of way acquisition. Later in the year, crews will begin utility relocation in the area. Construction will begin a year from now and last through spring 2015.
The project will include turning the signalized intersection into a multi-lane roundabout, sidewalks, lighting, landscaping and multi-purpose bike path that will connect the roundabout with the Ottawa RiverWalk.
This is the first modern roundabout area to be built in the entire Ohio Department of Transportation District 1. That means you’ll drive to Dayton, Toledo or Columbus before seeing another one.
“With this being the first in the area, there’s a lot that’s unfamiliar to drivers,” Rhodes said. “Downtown Lima and downtown Troy are not modern roundabouts.”
The Allen County Engineer’s Office chose the roundabout because it provides the highest level of service, greatest reduction in congestion, most capacity for future and most safety improvements, Rhodes said.
The project began in earnest a full decade ago when Rhodes, who also is the county bridge engineer, secured $1 million in federal funding for a bridge replacement there. The county leveraged that money to get a corridor study completed to determine solutions for an intersection that is currently unsafe and inefficient. About 14,000 vehicles a day travel through the intersection, which is perennially a top crash location in the county.
By their design, roundabouts move vehicles in a counter-clockwise direction, slow drivers down and eliminate left turns, which drastically reduces the number of right angle and head-on collisions.
However, most people are skeptical about them when proposed. An average of 68 percent of people have a negative or very negative attitude about roundabouts before construction, Rhodes said. Afterward, that percentage drops to zero.
“It’s getting familiar with it,” Rhodes said. “It’s less complicated than you think. You don’t have to look left, right and left again.”
Traffic will be maintained through construction, Rhodes said. The new bridge will be constructed just to the current bridge’s east, so the current bridge won’t close. But overall construction will delay movement in the area.
“Traffic must be maintained as part of the contract, but with 14,000 cars a day, it’s not always going to be pretty,” Rhodes said.