Heavy traffic on Sawmill Parkway makes it dangerous to turn in or out of the Bainbridge Mills neighborhood, residents say.

Heavy traffic on Sawmill Parkway makes it dangerous to turn in or out of the Bainbridge Mills neighborhood, residents say.

Now they're lobbying to have the neighborhood's main roadway rerouted to improve safety.

Mel House, president of the Bainbridge Mills Homeowners Association, addressed the Liberty Township board of trustees at a May 8 meeting, asking for the project to get under way.

House said traffic on Sawmill Parkway makes even right-hand turns into or out of the neighborhood difficult.

He said a survey of homeowners in the neighborhood indicated virtually all support a plan to close the entrance to Bainbridge Mills at Sawmill Parkway, located just north of Summit View Road. Bainbridge Mills Drive then would be rerouted roughly 100 yards north to connect with Old Sawmill Road.

From there, drivers could access the intersection of Bradford Court and Sawmill Parkway, which has a traffic signal.

"I don't think we can survive when we look at the potential for additional traffic from Walmart and Target and the continuing buildout of residential properties around the township and Powell," he said.

He added: "It's impossible at many times during the day to exit left or enter left. You take your life into your hands every time that you do that."

During certain times of the year -- particularly in the midst of WildLights at the Columbus Zoo in December -- it's nearly impossible to exit the neighborhood in either direction, he said.

Commercial signs and the curving path of Sawmill Parkway hinder visibility and exacerbate the problem, he added.

Accident data is spotty because the entrance is near the intersection of several police jurisdictions, but House said he has witnessed several crashes.

Residents of the neighborhood first approached the township in 2005 over the issue.

Up-to-date estimates from the Delaware County engineer put the cost of rerouting the road around $525,000, said Township Administrator Dave Anderson.

House said the homeowner's association is gathering funds that could be used to move signs or light fixtures.

All three trustees expressed support for the project.

"I'm in favor of moving forward to the next step. Let's try to get this done," said board Chairman Curt Sybert.

Property developer Vince Margello suggested an alternate funding method that could cut back the cost. Instead of going through the county engineer, residents could bid the project out to a private contractor not bound by prevailing wage laws.

For $2,000 to $4,000 each, residents could see the road built and dramatically increase their home value, Margello said.

A plan for the project already exists; it was created several years ago by the county engineer's office.

House, however, said he is skeptical that Margello's plan would gain traction among residents of the neighborhood.