Plans to redesign U.S. Route 35 to improve safety and reduce crashes is closer to becoming a reality after Greene County received $5 million in state transportation funding toward the project.
This Ohio Department of Transportation Highway Safety Improvement Program money will cover about half of the $10 million to $11 million needed to build superstreets near Factory Road and Orchard Lane in Beavercreek.
Superstreets restrict traffic on secondary roads from making a left turn to access the main highway. Drivers have to make a right turn, then a u-turn. According to transportation experts, superstreets reduce the amount of time it takes to get through intersections and side streets and speeds up traffic.
ODOT District 8 has filed an application with the Transportation Review Advisory Council to request another $5 million.
“That’s still pending at the moment,” said Brian Cunningham, an ODOT spokesman. “It won’t be finalized till sometime after the first of the year. Probably around February.”
The application is one of five funding applications, that total $44.5 million, District 8 has filed with TRAC this year. Other applications include three from Hamilton and one from Clermont counties.
“Between the local jurisdictions and the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, we can come up with the $12 to $13 million the project will cost and we can get it started sometime early next spring,” said Greene County Commissioner Bob Glaser.
Once installed, the superstreet design will prevent drivers traveling on Factory Road or Orchard Lane from turning left onto U.S. Route 35. Divers will have to turn right and drive a short distance before making a U-turn onto the highway to travel west or to continue on Factory Road or Orchard Lane.
The superstreet is also expected to reduce crashes in the area. According to ODOT, about 37,000 to 38,000 drivers travel U.S. Route 35 daily. An estimated 91 crashes have occurred in the U.S. Route 35 and Orchard Lane area between 2011 and 2015.
The current Route 35 design is outdated according to local government officials who say a modern design is needed to accommodate the traffic increase.
The planned superstreets is a temporary solution to alleviate traffic woes until additional funding can be secured for the permanent U.S. Route 35 fix that will cost around $120 million. That project involves removing three traffic lights along the 1.7-mile stretch between Factory and Trebein roads. Last year marked the sixth time Greene County unsuccessfully filed a TRAC application seeking funds to apply to a permanent solution. TRAC rejected the $32 million funding request.
“We would like to take and have the entire project completed as planned,” Glaser said. “Being a $120 million project in light of the fact that the federal highway fund is basically flat and there’s been no increase in gasoline taxes to build it back up, it’s unrealistic to to think we can come up with that that $120 million dollars to complete the project at this time.
“However, going forward we can continue lobbying and hopefully as the future unfolds there will be funds available through the federal government and through the state of Ohio. If money flows from the feds down to the state, we can be in a better position to go forth with the whole project.”
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