A new traffic signal at the intersection of South Old State Road and Wilshire Boulevard will improve traffic flow and make turns safer, Delaware County officials say.
The signal will be activated "in the next few weeks," said Rob Riley, project manager for the Delaware County engineer's office.
The new signal is part of a major widening project officials said will ease congestion on South Old State Road in Lewis Center, set to go forward by 2015.
The $17.2 million county project will add extra north- and south-bound lanes, plus turn lanes, to a two-mile stretch of South Old State Road from Wynstone Drive, just south of Polaris Parkway, to Abbey Knoll Drive, just north of Orange Road.
Officials said the project will make the road safer. From 2006-09, South Old State Road saw nearly 300 crashes -- roughly 21/2 times the statewide average for similar roads.
Rapid residential and commercial growth along the corridor is to blame, county leaders said.
"We have a crash problem and we felt like we needed to do something about the biggest problem spot, which is right around Polaris Parkway and just north of that," Riley said.
About three years ago, officials started a study of the road from Polaris Parkway north to U.S. Route 36. It identified where extra lanes and traffic signals are needed.
The project currently is in the planning and engineering phase, but Orange Township officials successfully lobbied to have a signal at South Old State Road and Wilshire Boulevard installed early.
Orange Township Administrator Gail Messmer, who lives in the Wilshire subdivision, said she often avoids the intersection.
"It's very difficult to make a left-hand turn," Messmer said. "I don't go out there unless I'm going to turn right. There are so many cars and traffic is too heavy south of Old State."
Riley said the traffic signal could be implemented early because the footprint of the widening project already is determined.
"The poles were installed right where they need to be," he said. "We didn't want to install something we were going to have to tear up in a few years."
Now that the poles are installed, he said the county is waiting on electrical infrastructure to be implemented to power the traffic lights.