County clears hurdles for 315 roundabout
Construction on rotary planned at Orange Road is set to begin next summer
Construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Orange Road and state Route 315 is set for summer 2013, Delaware County officials say.
The long-delayed project originally was planned to coincide roughly with the replacement of the Orange Road bridge, finished in 2009, to make the intersection safer for motorists.
But concerns over the environmental impact of the project, located along the protected scenic Olentangy River, postponed construction of the single-lane roundabout.
Delaware County Chief Deputy Engineer Rob Riley said the project would require "several hundred feet" of vegetation to be cleared.
The area is home to a protected species of bats that roost in the trees, said Liberty Township Administrator Dave Anderson.
"The biggest issue was getting an agreement with regard to mitigating the impact of the roundabout," Riley said. "We're working in an environmentally sensitive area along the river.
"When you've got several different agencies and a lot of people involved, these things don't happen quickly, but we are fully committed to moving forward."
Riley said the county worked with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio Department of Transportation to minimize the environmental impact.
Now the project has the green light. County workers will begin moving utility and water lines this winter, with construction to begin in the summer.
It's expected to cost the county about $800,000. The money will come from the county's road and bridge fund, which receives county sales tax.
Officials considered alternative solutions to improve the intersection, including installing a traffic light with turn lanes. But that would require lengthy approach lanes and even more environmental interference, Riley said.
The intersection doesn't meet state requirements for a four-way stop, said county Engineer Chris Bauserman.
Unlike a stop sign or traffic signal, the roundabout won't significantly slow down traffic traveling along Route 315 -- but it will make the intersection safer, Riley said.
The circular junctures largely eliminate the possibility of head-on collisions.
"Statistically, roundabouts are much safer than traditional four-way intersections," Riley said. "We really felt that all the pluses pointed us in that direction."
The Delaware County Board of Commissioners originally approved the project in June 2010, with plans to move forward in 2011. At the time, the board received some pushback from residents who worried it would destroy the area's natural beauty.
According to plans, the roundabout will be landscaped with indigenous trees and shrubs.
It's the second half of a project to improve the safety and usability of the intersection, after workers rerouted Orange Road over a new bridge about 200 feet north of the historic Orange Road Bridge, which still stands in its original location.
A group of volunteers still is working on plans to preserve the old one-lane bridge, which is no longer safe for vehicles.
Anderson said the group will meet with officials at the county engineer's office in December to discuss the feasibility of several options, including leaving it standing as a historical monument or moving it to a local park.