New Albany leaders are looking for funding to improve the intersection at state Route 605 and Walnut Street with a roundabout -- and make it safer.
Since 2017, eight crashes have occurred at Route 605 (also known locally as New Albany-Condit Road) and Walnut, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety's electronic crash-tracking system. Of those, two resulted in injury, while the rest resulted in property damage.
New Albany City Council on Aug. 21 approved a resolution to apply to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission for funding, with all members voting yes, except Glyde Marsh, who said he preferred a traffic signal instead of a roundabout.
The city estimates that an intersection-relocation and roundabout project would be $2.5 million, according to an Aug. 21 legislative report. The funding request would be for 60 percent of the cost, with a local share of 40 percent.
Regardless of whether the city would move forward with a signalized intersection or a roundabout, the intersection is offset and still would need realigned, said Joe Stefanov, New Albany's city manager.
The local funding for the project could come from a combination of sources, including the city, Plain Township and Franklin County, Stefanov said.
"We haven't figured all that out yet," he said.
Roughly 75 percent of the roundabout is outside the city's jurisdiction, according to city spokesman Scott McAfee.
Ben Collins, Plain Township administrator, said Route 605 is under the jurisdiction of the Ohio Department of Transportation and Walnut Street is a Franklin County road.
Though the township has no jurisdiction over the intersection, he said, it still would benefit from the improvements.
"We have an interest in seeing improvements to that intersection," Collins said.
Collins said he believes the township trustees would be receptive to a discussion about how to contribute to the project.
President Pro Tempore Colleen Briscoe and council members Marlene Brisk and Mike Durik said Aug. 21 that securing additional local funds for the project outside of city revenue was important, but Marsh said a roundabout would be a waste of public money.
Safety seemed to be the topic on which everyone could agree.
Plain Township resident Anna Srba told council members she would prefer a roundabout at the intersection, which she described as dangerous.
"I don't think that a light would make it any safer," she said.
The alignment of the intersection presents visibility challenges, and the township receives complaints from residents about sight lines, Collins said.
Oncoming traffic is difficult to see from the north and south, and a hill on the intersection's south side contributes to visibility issues, he said.
In addition, east- and westbound vehicles have stop signs, while north- and southbound traffic does not, Collins said.
Generally speaking, an intersection is safer if streets are lined up rather than offset, said Fritz Crosier, chief deputy of engineering for the Franklin County Engineer's Office.
He said he could not speak to specific safety issues for the Route 605-Walnut intersection because the county doesn't track crashes there.
Crosier said the county engineer's office always is interested in collaborating with other agencies and has worked with New Albany and Plain Township quite a bit.
Since the intersection's two portions are in an unincorporated area, the county could participate in the project, he said. That participation could be a financial or in-kind contribution, such as providing construction administration or assistance with land acquisition, he said. A housing development also is underway near Route 605 and Walnut, and several improvements are in progress as a result of a traffic study for the development, said ODOT District 6 spokeswoman Breanna Badanes.
The development is Nottingham Trace, a Pulte Homes neighborhood that will include 240 age-restricted homes off Schleppi Road and west of Route 605.
Route 605 was widened to add a northbound-southbound left-turn lane at Schleppi Road, Badanes said. The southbound lane of the road closed June 6 for 75 days between New Albany Road and Walnut Street for the project, but it has reopened, according to McAfee.
"ODOT does not have any further plans at (Route) 605 and Walnut," Badanes said.