Study: Fewer lanes can improve safety on Derr Road

A $1.8 million project to eliminate one lane of traffic on Derr Road will reduce crashes and speeds on the heavily trafficked roadway, according to a consultant’s study.

The project — which includes $1.5 million in federal money and $300,000 in city matching funds — will convert Derr Road from four lanes to three between Home and Villa roads, including adding a center turn-lane and bike lanes in both directions.

RELATED: $4.5M in federal money to be spent on Springfield streets

The project won’t create delays, the recently released report says, but it will reduce travel speeds and improve safety. The nearby bus stops won’t have an effect on traffic in the corridor, it says.

“(The study) came out the way we expected,” Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee Director Scott Schmid said.

By using federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality money to complete this repaving project, he said, it allows the TCC to have more flexibility with other money.

“We’re getting more done with the same amount of money we have,” Schmid said.

The transportation committee will discuss the project at 10:30 a.m. today at the Springview Government Center, 3130 E. Main St. It was proposed as part of the TCC’s upcoming $10 million Transportation Improvement Program for 2018 through 2021.

MORE: More than $1M in new developments coming to Derr Road

Four people spoke out against the project in written comments to the TCC during a public open house in September. The project is too costly and will reduce safety, those residents said. That led to TCC’s consultant, Burgess and Niple, completing a corridor feasibility study on Derr Road between Home and Villa roads, as well as Home Road between Ohio 4 and North Limestone Street.

About 10,000 cars drive on Derr Road between Home and Villa roads each day, according to TCC traffic counts. About 15,000 cars travel on Home Road between Ohio 4 and North Limestone Street each day.

In the study’s area, there were about 187 crashes between 2013 and 2015, including 67 injury crashes, 120 property crashes and one fatality.

The addition of a center turn lane will reduce the number of crashes because vehicles currently stop in the through lane to make a left turn. It will also reduce left turn crashes because eliminating the through lane will result in fewer conflict points, the report says.

“You have additional through lane you don’t really need and then the wide lanes and no traffic leads to some higher speeds we don’t want to see,” Schmid said.

DETAILS: Busy Springfield corridor could get $12M in improvements

The project will also likely add buffered bike lanes that connect to other nearby connections on Derr Road. That will allow for reduced vehicle emissions, the report says.

The project is a continuation of what’s being done on Derr Road by the Clark County Engineer’s Office and upcoming repairs to Villa Road, Schmid said. A similar project will add bike lanes onto Croft Road in the future, he said.

“I don’t know if we set out to have it all together, but we’re making a pretty good path to get from the north side to the east side of town,” Schmid said.

The project would include bike paths and markings on each side. Construction could begin in July 2020 at the earliest and design work remains on the project.

READ MORE: Deadly Champaign County plane crash changed safety rules

It must be approved as part of the upcoming TIP process later this year, he said. The city must also move forward with the project, he said.

“The report gives us enough to satisfy the public comments we got as far as concerns with too much volume on the roadway,” Schmid said.

Springfield residents shopping at Kroger on Thursday afternoon were pleased with the planned updates to the roadway.

The change could be a good idea, Springfield resident Barbara Wiley said.

“People will have to get used to it like the rest of Derr Road,” she said.

Springfield resident Donald Brownlee was happy to hear about the proposed bike lane.

“I ride my bike a lot,” Brownlee said. “Plus, it provides a better flow of traffic. I think it’s a great idea.”


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