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ODOT seeks funding for Route 35 redesign

Installing a superstreet would be a temporary fix to traffic problems on the highway.

We have covered proposals for the Route 35 design since the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission conducted a traffic study of a highly traveled section in Beavercreek Twp. in 2004.

A proposal to add a superstreet on U.S. Route 35 could reduce the number of crashes along a dangerous stretch of highway between Valley/Trebein and Factory roads, but millions of dollars are needed to move the project forward, according to the state transportation agency.

The four-vehicle crash at Route 35 and Orchard Lane on Tuesday, which included a semitrailer, marks the latest of more than seven dozen traffic accidents near that intersection, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The current design on Route 35 has outgrown itself and a more modern design is needed to accommodate the traffic increase, according to local officials

“Route 35 has been a problem for many years,” said Greene County Commissioner Bob Glaser. “The interchanges were proposed way back in the 1960s, but they were never constructed. At this particular point and time, the problem has become complicated by the fact that interstate traffic has now moved on to Route 35 with the completion of the superhighway projects in West Virginia.

“So everything coming out of the Midwest is now flowing across that little link in terms of truck traffic heading for the Southeastern seaboard.”

Use of the superstreet is a temporary fix until adequate funding can be acquired for a permanent solution, which could cost as much as $120 million.

An estimated 37,000 to 38,000 drivers travel Route 35 daily, according to ODOT. Over a four-year period starting in 2011, about 91 crashes were reported in the Route 35 and Orchard Lane area, said Brian Cunningham, an ODOT spokesman.

Now, ODOT is still trying to get funding for the $10 to $11 million superstreet project, Cunningham said. The state transportation agency is working on a contract for a consultant to develop a blueprint for construction.

“We’re probably looking at sometime this summer when the preliminary plans will be developed,” Cunningham said. “Then we will have a public information meeting where we will provide that information to the public to allow them to comment, ask questions and receive answers.

If the superstreet design is installed, drivers traveling north on Factory Road or Orchard Lane would not be able to turn left on Route 35. They would turn right and drive a short distance before making a U-turn on Route 35 to travel west or to continue on FactoryRoad or Orchard Lane.

ODOT District 8 is working on an application for state transportation safety-related funding, however these funds are limited to $5 million.

“Any remaining funding needed to construct the project would be a combination of other state and/or local funding,” Cunningham said.

Glaser has worked with ODOT and Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission to get funding for the U.S. Route 35 project.

The design alternative reduces the amount of time it takes to get through intersections and side streets and the amount of traffic that is moved through the intersection is increased.

The temporary fix for Route 35 comes six years after local leaders and MVRPC started annually applying for funding through the ODOT Transportation Advisory Council for a highway redesign that included removing three traffic lights along the 1.7-mile stretch between Factory and Trebein roads. Late last year, TRAC rejected a request to fund the more extensive project once again.

Greene County requested $32 million for the permanent Route 35 project in 2015. The projected total cost of that project would be around $120 million.

Plans to redesign the stretch of highway were initiated after MVRPC completed a study on Route 35 in Greene County in 2004 that looked at issues that included roadway access, traffic safety and economic development.

Recently, Beavercreek Township sent a letter of support asking ODOT to further investigate options for adding a superstreet, said Alex Zaharieff, the township administrator.

“The township and City of Beavercreek are working closely with the county, ODOT and MVRPC to expedite funding of the superstreet concept,” said Beavercreek Township Trustee Tom Kretz.