Through 2015, accident rates at three roundabouts have been among the highest in Hilliard, according to a MORPC traffic study.

Hilliard officials will contract with an engineering firm to determine ways to reduce the number of crashes at three of the city's busiest and accident-prone roundabouts: Main Street at Scioto Darby Road, Main at Cemetery Road and Davidson Road at Britton Parkway.

City Council members are expected to approve a resolution Feb. 27 appropriating $220,000 for a professional-services agreement with engineering firm Burgess & Niple, deputy city engineer Letty Schamp said.

She said it authorizes $180,000 from the city's capital-improvements budget for two tasks: a study of the roundabouts, including public outreach about proper roundabout procedures, and studying pedestrian traffic near the pair of roundabouts on Main Street.

Another $40,000 from the city's operating budget is set aside for projects not yet identified, Schamp said. It could be used as a supplement if the cost for contracted services exceeds the estimated amount, she said, or for a different task.

The decision was made, she said, after a three-year study of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission showed accident rates at the three roundabouts had not declined.

The Main Street roundabouts at Cemetery and Scioto Darby roads opened in the fall of 2011; the one at Davidson Road and Britton Parkway was finished in 2009, Schamp said.

All replaced what had been signalized intersections.

According to a report MORPC released in July 2016, those three roundabout-style intersections had the highest number of accidents in Hilliard from 2013 through 2015.

"Initially, it wasn't a surprise," Schamp said, that the number of accidents increased after the intersections were rebuilt as roundabouts because drivers needed to adjust.

"But what we didn't expect was that the numbers would remain this high," she said.

Schamp said she did not know the number of accidents prior to the opening of the roundabouts but acknowledged the accident rates likely had increased.

According to the MORPC study, Cemetery Road and Main Street had the highest number of accidents in Hilliard: 233 in the three-year period. The study recorded 82 accidents in 2013, 68 in 2014 and 83 in 2015. None of the accidents were fatal or even caused "serious injury," but seven caused minor injuries, according to the report.

The adjacent roundabout at Main Street and Scioto Darby Road had 141 crashes in the three-year period. MORPC recorded 44 crashes in 2013, 42 crashes in 2014 and 55 crashes in 2015. Eight minor injuries were reported, but no serious injuries or fatalities.

Video • Cars pass through the roundabout at Scioto Darby Road and Main Street. It has the second highest accident rate in Hilliard, according to a MORPC study.

At Davidson Road and Britton Parkway, third on the list, 72 crashes were reported, including 23 in 2013, 21 in 2014 and 28 in 2015. Seven minor injuries were reported, but no serious injuries or fatalities.

Not included in the city's proposed study but No. 4 on the list is Cemetery Road and Lyman Drive (58 reported accidents). No. 5 is Cemetery Road and Britton Parkway (52). However, both are signalized intersections, not roundabouts.

The accidents at the roundabouts likely had a hand in ranking Hilliard as one of the most accident-prone cities in central Ohio.

Hilliard was No. 4 of 19 listed cities in crash frequency in a five-year study from 2011 to 2015 that MORPC released in July 2016.

Columbus topped the MORPC list with 112,512 reported crashes. Dublin was second (4,408), followed by Delaware (3,636) and then Hilliard (3,394).

"Clearly the number of accidents (at roundabouts in Hilliard) isn't going down ... and we're working to find out why," Schamp said.

The first task, she said, is to study the three roundabouts to determine if any modifications, signs or public education would reduce accident rates.

The second task is to look at pedestrian issues, specifically students who walk to and from school buildings in the area, Schamp said.

"People have expressed concern to us (about the safety of pedestrians) and we will look at ways to improve their safety, including issues of (drivers not) yielding," she said.

Schamp said she was aware of several instances of drivers being cited for failure to yield but that those occurred at nearby intersections rather than the roundabouts.

Still, the accident rates in the roundabouts warranted a further study, she said.

The city plans to seek input from Hilliard City Schools leaders and residents, Schamp said.

ThisWeek recently interviewed several parents who called "close calls" a daily occurrence for students walking or biking to the six school buildings on the mile-long stretch of Scioto Darby Road in the heart of Hilliard.

For ThisWeek's Feb. 16 story on the matter, local police, district officials and city leaders said they are striving to create safer passage for students by focusing on education, enforcement and, in the future, collaborative initiatives.

"We are always excited to partner with the city when it comes to keeping our students and staff safe," said Stacie Raterman, a spokeswoman for the school district.

Hilliard City Council President Kelly McGivern said Feb. 20 that she supports the initiative and views it as "a positive move."

"It's good to be proactive whenever possible and this is a proactive in both public safety and communication," McGivern said.

kcorvo@thisweeknews

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