Olentangy Valley News

Turn lanes should ease wait at aggravating crossroads

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

For the past 27 years, the first driveway north of the intersection of state routes 750 and 315 has led to the home of Gayle and Keith Pattison.

But in the past 10 years, the couple has seen the intersection less and less.

As commercial and residential development in the area exploded, it has become a notorious bottleneck that backs traffic up for a half-mile or more during rush hour. The congestion is particularly bad for northbound traffic.

Mrs. Pattison said even if she and her husband have a southward destination, "we almost always go north and drive around the traffic. We do anything to avoid the intersection."

Mr. Pattison added the intersection is a hazard when someone needs to get through for a medical emergency.

The Pattisons and about 50 others attended a meeting hosted Monday, Feb. 25, by the Ohio Department of Transportation to be briefed on a project to add turn lanes and alleviate congestion at the intersection.

Currently, cross-traffic makes it hard for north- and southbound commuters to turn left onto state Route 750, also called Powell Road, and turn lanes have long been a pipe dream for Delaware County officials.

Now there are plans to add turn lanes in all four directions by the end of the year to get traffic moving.

The project could begin as soon as August and take about four months to complete. It's estimated to cost $9.7 million.

ODOT Planning and Engineering Administrator Thom Slack said only one road will be closed at a time during construction and added: "Those closure times will be measured in weeks, not months."

He said advance notice will be given and detour routes will be posted.

Currently, cars wait an average of nearly five minutes to pass through the intersection at rush hour -- and sometimes much longer.

Slack said studies indicate the turn lanes will reduce that waiting period by more than 75 percent, moving cars through in two cycles of the traffic signal instead of five or six cycles.

On Route 315, the turn lane south of the intersection will be 300 feet long, while the turn lane north of the intersection will be 100 feet long; traffic traveling southbound through the intersection is much lighter.

Slack said a 600-foot intersection south of the intersection would be ideal, but the project was scaled back to minimize the impact to the scenic river corridor.

"It's not a full-term solution to all the congestion out there, but it's going to work a lot better than what we have now," he said.

The project also includes a bank-stabilization component to bolster the bank along the adjacent stretch of the Olentangy River. That work will begin this year and be completed in 2014.

ODOT has been monitoring the stretch of roadway for years after the banks of the Olentangy River were determined to be eroding and causing distress to the road .

In addition to adding turn lanes and reinforcing the riverbank, workers will reduce the steep grade on state Route 750 west of the intersection in 2014, and construct a 140-foot retaining wall along Route 315 near the intersection. The wall will consist of a steel barrier on wooden posts to improve safety.

Five concrete culverts that span streams under the road also will be replaced.

One resident expressed concern that speeding up the intersection will entice large trucks to opt for Route 315 to avoid U.S. Route 23 at rush hour.

County officials said that concern may be alleviated somewhat by the planned construction of a roundabout at the intersection of state Route 315 and Orange Road this summer, which would discourage large trucks from using the route in addition to improving overall safety.

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