HARROD — A large crowd turned out Wednesday night at Allen East High School to hear about the Ohio Department of Transportation’s plan to make a couple of eastern Allen County intersections safer.
ODOT and its consultant on the project, Jacobs Engineering Group, are studying state Route 309 east of Interstate 75 where the state highway intersects with both Thayer and Napoleon roads.
“So as part of the governor’s safety initiative, we have gone through and identified, statewide, 150 intersections that have safety problems centering around crashes, serious injuries, fatalities, anything that’s a public hazard. They’ve been identified pre-screened, if you will, to find that these safety locations where we can make safety improvements for the public,” said Rob White, capital programs administrator for ODOT, District 1.
Those intersections have seen an increase in accidents over the past few years.
“The problem with these intersections is what we’re seeing is head-on collisions or left turn collisions from the intersection,” said White. “What happens is people get anxious. They’re making a decision to shoot the gap and misjudging oncoming traffic.”
Between 2016 and 2018, there were 23 crashes at Thayer Road and 18 crashes at Napoleon Road including one fatality. In 2019, there was one fatal crash at Thayer Road and one injury crash at Napoleon Road.
ODOT has proposed two options which include single-lane roundabouts or widening the road to add left-turn lanes at those two intersections.
“At these particular locations, with the amount of traffic we have, and the number of crashes we have and you know, people are losing lives here. So as of right now, our recommended preferred alternative is a roundabout, which basically eliminates most of the crossing conflicts,” said Ram Noona, project manager for Jacobs Engineering Group.
People had questions about how a roundabout would affect truck traffic through the area.
Another issue raised was some people believe a third intersection in the area — Thayer Road and state Route 81 — should also be investigated. ODOT said they have done some slight improvements at that intersection but it hasn’t warranted additional work yet.
“It is on our radar,” said Chris Hughes, with ODOT District 1.
Jane Kimmell, who lives on Allen Hardin County Line Road, doesn’t want anything to do with roundabouts.
“I do not personally like the roundabout. They’re very confusing and I have seen people that just seem totally confused on what they’re supposed to do as they go around them. The problem that they state is more problems with distracted driving, failure to yield and I feel that they need to have more law enforcement in the area to enforce those kinds of things that are causing the problems,” said Kimmell.
Sally Hauenstein, of eastern Allen County, is keeping an open mind about the safety fixes.
“Since they’re both pretty good ideas. It’s all going to take some learning no matter what you do. So, I mean, it’ll all take some getting used to, the turn lanes or the roundabouts,” said Hauenstein.
A 30-day comment period runs through Feb. 22. Email comments to Beth.Clark@dot.ohio.gov.
ODOT is hoping to make a decision after a 30-day comment period is over and will begin the process of land acquisition and design shortly after that.
The project is tentatively scheduled for construction in 2022.
If roundabouts are selected for the intersections, ODOT plans a public education campaign to tell people how to properly enter and exit a roundabout.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.