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$5.4M project to improve safety

Clark County road has seen an increase in traffic, crashes in recent years.

About $5.4 million in safety improvements are planned for Derr Road after traffic and crashes have increased there in the past four years.

In 2009, a construction project changed Derr Road from a bridge over Ohio 334 to an interchange. Since then traffic volumes have increased from about 8,000 vehicles daily to between 9,000 and 10,000 vehicles daily.

A recent study also found that 42 crashes occurred along Derr Road between 2006 and 2010, Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee Director Scott Schmid said, including one fatality.

“The real driving force behind this particular project is the safety component,” Schmid said.

The traffic volume also is expected to grow in certain sections of Derr Road to nearly 11,000 vehicles per day and up to about 14,000 vehicles daily in other parts by 2035.

So to ease congestion and improve safety, Clark County Engineer John Burr said construction crews plan to make a number of changes, including: widening Derr Road between Villa and Moorefield roads and adding a 5-foot shoulder along the road, a traffic signal at the Derr Road and Montego Drive intersection, and a northbound turn lane at Derr Road and Kingsgate Drive.

“They’re using Derr Road (more) now that it’s connected to 334,” Burr said. “The lanes are being mildly widened, but the big thing is you’ll have this extra area here (the shoulder) for recovery for safety for the vehicles.”

Derr Road will go from 11 feet wide to 12 feet wide.

Construction on the two-mile stretch is expected to begin in late 2016 or early 2017.

Eighty percent of the project, or up to a maximum of $3.7 million, will be paid for with federal dollars and TCC will provide nearly $600,000 for design costs.

Ron C. White, who has lived on Villa Road near Derr Road for 53 years, welcomes the changes.

He said the 2009 construction made accessing the community and nearby roads easier for motorists. But he said the additional vehicles has created a need for a wider road and a traffic light, especially at the intersection of Montego Drive and Derr Road.

“I go that way every day to pick up my grandson at school. (The Derr and Villa roads) intersection is fine. But when coming from Montego Drive to Derr … there’s always about 10 or 12 cars there. It’s like that everyday. I always have to sit there and wait,” White said.

White said the narrow road is also a problem.

He said he and another motorist were recently forced to drive into a ditch to avoid another vehicle that had crossed over the center line.

The recommended changes come after a 2011 study of the Northridge area, a largely residential area with pockets of commercial development along Derr, Moorefield and Villa roads.

The Northridge area is also in close proximity to the Simon Kenton Trail, an 11-mile multi-use path between Springfield and Urbana that runs parallel to Urbana Road, the study said.

The Simon Kenton Trail is part of the 35 miles of dedicated multi-use paths in Clark County, the study said.

Of the 42 crashes along Derr Road, Schmid said that included one fatality, 15 injury crashes and 26 accidents that resulted in property damage. Fifteen of the accidents were rear-end collisions and seven of them were angle or T-bone crashes.

“The shoulder improvements, beyond providing safety benefits for vehicles, also accommodate bicycle travel and the occasional pedestrian travel by providing similar benefits of a multi-use path without the right-of-way impacts,” Schmid said.

Derr Road will be safer for the drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists when the project is complete, Burr said.

“The corridor does not meet design standards for the current level of traffic,” Burr said.

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