The need to increase safety and reduce traffic congestion is prompting the city of Pickerington to investigate the feasibility of constructing a roundabout at the intersection of state Route 256 and Diley Road.
A roundabout is circular intersection, with a central island, which allows traffic to flow uninterrupted in one direction and requires no traffic light.
Pickerington City Engineer Greg Bachman said the existing traffic signal at the State Route 256 and Diley Road intersection simply can't handle the volume of traffic at that location.
He said a roundabout might be an effective method in which to improve traffic flow and prevent accidents.
"There are about 25,000 vehicles per day on state Route 256 and about 10,000 vehicles per day on Diley Road," Bachman said.
"A roundabout would reduce the average delay during rush hour by about 50 percent," he said.
He said the developer of the Discount Drug Mart Plaza wants to replace the existing traffic light with a roundabout at that intersection because it would give his tenants and customers better access as well as allow u-turns.
Harry Giltz, a development partner in the shopping center, appeared before Pickerington City Council's Service Committee Oct. 17 to advise city officials closure of the Diley Road entrance to the shopping center has caused a hardship on both his tenants and customers.
He said a roundabout at the intersection would benefit the shopping center as well as the city.
The president of Discount Drug Mart, John Gans, also appeared at the Oct. 17 meeting.
Gans stated safety considerations prompted the removal of access on Diley Road by the city five or six years ago, and he believes it has negatively impacted his business ever since.
Gans said a roundabout could be constructed through a public/private partnership with the Ohio Department of Transportation.
He said once a roundabout is completed, customers could enter and exit "the shopping center with little or no problems."
Bachman said the developer's proposal is attractive because there would be no out of pocket costs to the city for the construction of a roundabout.
"The developer's proposal is that he would fund the local share of an ODOT Safety Grant," Bachman said.
"The city of Pickerington would be the safety grant applicant, but the developer would fund all the local cost, so there would be no cost to the city," he said.
Bachman gave a presentation about roundabouts at the Service Committee meeting Nov. 14.
At the meeting he cited statistics from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety which found that roundabouts resulted in a 39-percent reduction in total crashes, a 76-percent reduction in injury crashes and an 89-percent reduction in fatal and incapacitating crashes.
"The tremendous safety improvement comes from the slow speed, 15 to 20 mph, of the vehicle traffic around the roundabout and that there can be no 'T-bone' type of right angle collisions," Bachman said.
"There are no roadway improvements that have as much accident reduction as roundabouts."
Bachman said there are numerous roundabouts in central Ohio.
"Dublin has about 20 roundabouts and there are more than 30 in Franklin County. Dublin and Hilliard officials report that their roundabouts have been very successful in alleviating traffic backups," he said.
"The city of Pickerington has two mini-roundabouts," Bachman said.
"One is on Town Square Drive and the other is on Fuller's Way, south of the police station. These mini-roundabouts primarily help to keep the speed of the traffic down.
"Neither (of the) mini-roundabouts carry enough traffic to be concerned about delay," he said.
Bachman said the roundabout issue will remain on the table for further discussion.
With no city funds available in the near future to lessen congestion at the intersection of state Route 256 and Diley Road, the potential private pursuit of state funds for the construction of a roundabout will remain an attractive option to consider.
"I'm not saying in any way that a roundabout will go in at (the intersection)," Bachman said.
"However, we owe it to our residents to consider all ideas to reduce congestion and improve safety," he said.
"If, after enough study, the city feels that a roundabout would be a good solution, there will be time for public comment and discussion.
"This is not something that we are going to rush into," he said.