The Ohio Department of Transportation is considering putting in a roundabout at the intersection of state Route 132 and Chapel Road in Batavia Township.
ODOT held a public information meeting on the project on Sept. 27 at its ODOT Clermont County Garage, located at 3600 state Route 132, which is very near the proposed intersection.
Tommy Arnold, ODOT District 8 Traffic Studies Engineer, said that the purpose for the project is to improve safety.
In February, spurred by calls from concerned citizens, ODOT converted the intersection from a two-way stop to a four-way stop.
Now, the agency is looking to go further and install a roundabout.
“We started with just improving the existing signs we had, but it wasn’t effective. In fact, we put up the flashing LED stops signs on the side street, and one of them was hit not long after we put it out there,” Arnold explained. “We looked at the crash data, and the traffic data as well, and decided on the four-way stop as kind of a band-aid.”
Yearly crash data that was handed out at the meeting shows that:
– In 2012, there were 10 crashes, of which seven resulted in injury.
– In 2013, there were three crashes, of which two resulted in injury.
– In 2014, there were four crashes, of which two resulted in injury.
– In 2015, there were six crashes, of which three resulted in injury.
– In 2016, there were 10 crashes, of which four resulted in injury and one resulted in death.
– In 2017, there were 10 crashes, of which five resulted in injury.
The total cost estimate for the roundabout is $2,280,000. That amount is derived from an estimated $370,000 in design costs, $210,000 in right-of-way acquisitions and $1,700,000 in construction costs.
The total cost of the project will be paid for using monies from ODOT’s Highway Safety Improvement Program, Arnold said, adding, “They’re federal funds; they’re from ODOT.”
A secondary benefit of the roundabout would be relieved traffic congestion.
“It’s a strong consideration, because the designs we put out there do have to last, but also, because if it gets congested over time, sometimes drivers can get more aggressive because they have to wait, and now they want to shoot that stop sign, and then we end up with a crash problem again,” Arnold said.
Construction on the project is estimated to start in spring 2021 and finish in spring 2022.
Leading up to that, ODOT is scheduled to finish its feasibility study on the project in November, and get its environmental documents approved in March 2019.
For now, the agency is looking for feedback from the public.
“We want to hear from folks who live here and also travel through,” Arnold said. “We want as much feedback as we can get on the project.”
Comments may be submitted up to 30 days after the meeting either by mail, email or through ODOT’s website. Questions about the project can forwarded to Anthony Pankala, environmental project manger of the project, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 513-933-6640.
Batavia Township Trustee James Sauls, Jr. attended the meeting and seemed to be open to all options.
“They’re doing traffic studies, and if it’s warranted, it’s good,” he said about the proposed roundabout, adding, “The stop-sign is working great; I mean the stop sign is working beyond all expectations.”
He went on to say that he’s heard from some in the community that the roundabout may impede large trucks from traveling through the area.
Arnold worked to quelch those rumors.
“We do design the roundabouts for trucks, and in fact we’re at our Clermont County garage; we have heavy vehicles that go through this intersection and large vehicles … like snow plows and everything else. We certainly take that into account.”
Kay Rhodus, who lives adjacent to the intersection on Chapel Road, has concerns about impacts the project’s construction would have on her house, a converted 1832 church.
“This building, where I live, was the original church, which is why it’s called Chapel Road … the facade is new, but underneath that is the original church,” she explained. “As they build this, they’re building a temporary lane … which will be about four feet from my sidewalk.”
She’s also skeptical that a roundabout would improve crash incidents.
“As far as the roundabout is concerned, the end product, I think that the stop signs that they put in there are doing an adequate job,” Rhodus said. “They have reduced the severity of the accidents that are happening there, and frequency. I’m afraid that the roundabout is going to bring more accidents.”