GREENVILLE – The list of Ohio’s intersections that need safety improvements is out and Darke County has one that is the top 30. Ranking 27th on the safety ranking list for rural intersections is the intersection where State Route 121 meets U.S. Route 36.
Jonathan Koester, Ohio Department of Public Transportation (ODOT) project manager, said the state has a plan to make the intersection safer. Since 1967, change after change has been made to reduce the number of crashes at the incident. From flashers to rumble strips and upgrades in signage, the intersection continues to have its share of crashes. In 2013, a fatal crash occurred at the intersection and over the past three years eight of 17 crashes have resulted in injuries.
Working with Bergmann Architects, Engineers, Planners, ODOT is now proposing a roundabout.
Mike Gramza, Ohio Infrastructure Practice Leader with Bergmann, said they’ve looked at alternatives, including doing nothing, install a traffic signal, convert the intersection to an all-way stop or install additional signage and pavement markings, but the roundabout made the most sense when trying to reduce crashes, injuries and death. Koester shared the intersection did not meet any of the state requirements needed to install a traffic signal. He also pointed out the alternatives did little or nothing to prevent rear-end or right-angle crashes.
ODOT and Bergmann believe a roundabout will reduce the number of crashes as well as the severity of crashes. The Federal Highway Administration research shows that roundabouts at rural intersections reduces all crashes by 68 percent and injury crashes by up to 88 percent.
According to Gramza, the roundabout will be built with semi-tractors and farm equipment in mind. Larger vehicles are encouraged to use the apron in order to make its way around the roundabout.
Gramza said there is a four-step process for getting around a roundabout. First is to slow down. The typical speed will be 20-30 mph. Drivers approaching the roundabout should yield to vehicles already in the roundabout. Once in the roundabout, drivers should keep moving. The final step is to exit the roundabout at one of the four exits – right turn, straight, left turn or u-turn.
ODOT is currently accepting comments, questions, and suggestions on the project. Input will be considered in the decision-making process. Due to the modification of the format, ODOT will extend the public comment period to May 15.
A consolidated response to all comments received will be posted on the project page by the end of July, with a mailed copy to individuals that provide an address. Individuals without access to computers may request a hard copy of the presentation and transcript by contacting the individuals listed below:
Jonathan Koester, Project Manager, 937-497-6763 Jonathan.email@example.com
Tricia Bishop, Environmental Coordinator, 937-497-6721 Tricia.firstname.lastname@example.org
ODOT encourages you to visit the project page at this link: https://transportation.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odot/projects/projects/110475.
If approved, the project will be completed in the spring and summer of 2023.
PHOTO CAPTION: U.S. Route 36 and State Route 121 intersection is ranked 27th for needing safety improvements. ODOT believes a roundabout could take care of this issue. Courtesy photo