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$679K roundabout sought to ease traffic on Bechtle Avenue

Transportation officials want to build a $679,000 roundabout at one of Springfield’s busiest intersections.

Officials have applied for Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds from the Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee to construct a roundabout at the intersection of North Bechtle Avenue and St. Paris Connector.

Traffic was first controlled by a stop sign until a temporary traffic signal was installed in 2011 to reduce congestion, Springfield City Engineer Leo Shanayda said.

“We thought a roundabout at that location would be a good fit. With the signal out there now it seems to be working, but we’re getting complaints about (motorists) waiting to turn. With a roundabout there will be a continuous flow of traffic,” Shanayda said.

The roundabout project is among 22 projects vying for funding through the 2016-2019 Transportation Improvement Program for Clark County, TCC Director Scott Schmid said. Area residents can review a list of the projects at open house sessions Aug. 14 and Aug. 21.

The TIP is a four-year planning document that lists area projects seeking federal funding for highway, transit, bikeway, traffic and enhancement projects.

County departments and area municipalities, including the county, the city of Springfield and the West Central Ohio Port Authority, have requested congestion, Transportation Alternatives or Surface Transportation Program funding.

Transportation Alternatives money pays for bicycle and pedestrian projects. Surface Transportation Program money pays for construction for paving and resurfacing roads, installing decorative lighting along roads, and for fuel efficient vehicles and equipment.

The city of Springfield also applied for more than $1.1 million to reconstruct and resurface Belmont Avenue from Mitchell Boulevard to Home Road. The total cost of the project is more than $1.8 million.

Officials also want to install sidewalks along North Murray Street and Mount Vernon Avenue. Kayla Mongold, 12, was struck and killed by a speeding SUV in June 2012 while walking along North Murray Street.

Mongold’s mother, Gloria Mongold, recently asked city commissioners to install a guardrail or make improvements for pedestrians along that road. The total cost of the sidewalk project is nearly $89,000.

If the city’s application for funding for the roundabout is approved, 100 percent of the project will be paid for by federal funds. Other projects require 20 percent in local matching money.

The speed limit at the St. Paris Connector and North Bechtle intersection is 35 mph. Seven crashes have occurred there in three years and the average amount of traffic at the intersection has increased from 13,100 in 2010 to 14,500 in 2011, Schmid said.

The intersection has just three lanes and traffic in that area worsens around the holidays, City Manager Jim Bodenmiller said.

“The traffic can back up pretty substantially there and so even in regular times, you’re constantly stopping, perhaps unnecessarily. A roundabout would lessen that and move traffic better,” he said.

The traffic signal has helped, Bodenmiller said, but the roundabout would make traffic flow much better.

The city with the help of the TCC applied for funding to install a roundabout at that intersection in 2011 from the Ohio Department of Transportation, but the application was rejected.

The project didn’t qualify for ODOT funding due to the lack of significant crashes at the location, Schmid said, but it’s one of the city’s highest congested corridors.

As traffic increases at the intersection, a roundabout will reduce congestion, delays and the risk of accidents, Schmid said.

About 80 percent of traffic coming down the St. Paris Connector turns left and 80 percent of traffic along Bechtle turns right onto the connector, Schmid said.

While the traffic signal has helped, he said the roundabout can make traffic flow in at the intersection better.

“Once you put the roundabout in, you have a lot less conflicts because those right turning cars will keep moving instead of stopping at a red light,” Schmid said.

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