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Roundabout work to start at dangerous intersection

Construction is expected to begin next month on a first-of-its-kind roundabout at a dangerous Pike Twp. intersection.

Ohio Department of Transportation District 7 officials recently said the construction of the roundabout on Ohio 235 and Ohio 41 will cost a little more than $1 million, down about 10 percent from the original estimate of $1.5 million.

When the roundabout is built, it will likely be first in the state where the speed limit is 55 mph on all four sides.

ODOT Construction Administrator David Lay said construction on the project could begin in June and is slated to be completed by Sept. 15.

During construction, traffic along Ohio 41 will be detoured, while lanes on Ohio 235 would remain open, said Lonnie Cain, an ODOT district planner.

Carol Trissel, who lives near Ohio 235 and Ohio 41, said the roundabout will make the intersection safer.

“It will be difficult to have a fatality there after it’s built,” Trissel said.

The decision to construct the roundabout in 2013 came months after Trissel told transportation officials at a public meeting that residents wanted improvements immediately.

Trissel said then she was compelled to act after Tracy Walkup, 49, of Tipp City, was killed on June 26, 2012, becoming the fifth fatality at the intersection since 1992, more than any other intersection countywide.

Pike Twp. Trustee Greg Kaffenbarger has lived along Ohio 41 for decades and said he’s concerned every time a rescue truck passes his home.

“I had a friend killed there. There’s been too many fatalities there,” Kaffenbarger said.

Officials have tried since the 1970s to reduce accidents at the Pike Twp. intersection.

ODOT reduced the size of a hill on the road in the ’70s; in 1980, officials placed rumble strips and dual stop ahead signs on the road; in the early ’90s, red flashing lights on stop signs were installed; in 2000 a traffic light was installed and in 2011 back plates were put in place to help drivers see the traffic signal.

None of the changes worked.

In 1988, the intersection was listed by the Highway Safety Improvement Program as one of the most dangerous and ODOT has ranked it consistently as a high risk rural road.

Officials said the traffic signal helped reduce the overall crash totals from 45 between 1992 and 1999 to 39 total crashes from 2001 to 2010. But the signal had little impact on severe crashes.

ODOT and Clark County officials have said most of the crashes can be blamed on driver inattention and driver error.

Officials say the roundabout won’t correct driver errors but can reduce conflict points at the intersection and T-bone crashes.

“If there are crashes, they will be at a lower angle and not as severe because of the design (of the roundabout),” Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee Director Scott Schmid said.

In 2013, about 80 residents who attended a public meeting spoke both for and against building a roundabout.

Most residents who later submitted written comments opposed the plan, but ODOT Traffic Engineer Craig Eley said a roundabout was deemed the best solution to decrease severe injury and fatal crashes.

Chad Cadwell, who lives two miles north of the intersection, said the roundabout shouldn’t be built at the intersection.

“I would think there would be better intersections with a higher risk factor with less burden to the community where that money could go rather than impeding (thousands) of cars per day,” Cadwell has said. “I’m of the opinion it would be better elsewhere and at a cheaper cost.”

Trissel and Kaffenbarger disagree.

“When there’s change, people don’t like it and this is a big change,” Kaffenbarger said. “I don’t know if the accidents will be lowered but the fatalities will.”

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