Two months after the opening of Olentangy Berlin High School, traffic changes have provided a variety of challenges for local entities.
The school sits at 3140 Berlin Station Road in Berlin Township, situated between Gregory and Dale Ford roads, and officially opened its doors Aug. 5.
Since then, Delaware County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Tracy Whited said, the area, particularly Berlin Station itself, has seen a significant uptick in drivers. She said the department is aware of escalating traffic, but the sheriff's real concern has been an increase in accidents.
"The challenge is still people getting used to the increase in traffic," she said. "Sometimes that just takes time. They say changing a habit takes 30 days, and we're just past that with school being in session."
The slight bend in Berlin Station Road east of the school, she said, has seen multiple "wipeouts" and other crashes. Those have yet to involve multiple vehicles, but Whited said the department worries that will change eventually.
Despite the connection to the school, Whited didn't blame young drivers.
"People think it's teenagers, and we don't find that at all," she said. "They think the same about texting and driving. But it's all over the board."
Some residents and Berlin commuters have complained about traffic backups near the school, particularly during rush hour and football games, and that comes as no surprise to Berlin Township Trustee Ron Bullard.
Bullard said he lives on nearby Lackey Old State Road to the east of the school and doesn't bother trying to turn left across traffic during football games or other events.
"I can easily wait there for several minutes, not being able to make a left turn into the driveway just due to the amount of traffic," he said. "I'm sure it's the same with any of the other roads around there."
Bullard said Berlin leaders have "been complaining about (roads) for about three years before the school was even built," and said officials have been working with the Delaware County engineer to "try to make things better."
He said engineers repaved and slightly widened Berlin Station, which made the road "kind of marginally better." But he said the network around the roads will take time to catch up.
"Schools are not required to consider zoning or roads when they put a school in, so the roads kind of fall back on us," he said.
The silver lining for Bullard and others has been the first extension of Piatt Road to the immediate east of the school. Piatt now connects Berlin Station and Glenmead Drive to the south, and Berlin Township plans to extend it to Cheshire Road by 2019.
Bullard said the current extension "really helps a lot," and hopes one day to see Piatt connect all the way to U.S. Route 36 and state Route 37 to the north.
"We knew, the school knew, everybody knew that access to this school was not going to be good," he said. "It's going to take a while to get it right."
From the perspective of John Betz, Berlin High School's athletics director, traffic isn't so bad.
School commuters, football fans and others all "have to funnel out onto Berlin Station," he said, but traffic has been "no more than any other Friday night football traffic."
After working at Olentangy Orange High School, he said he sees the traffic complaints as minor.
"In all my years at Orange -- talk about a traffic nightmare -- this hasn't been anything like that," he said.
While driving habits change, Piatt Road construction continues and the Delaware County Sheriff's Office tries to find a way to slow traffic, Whited said she hopes drivers will simply slow down a bit before serious injuries happen.
"People need to remember that we have speed limits for a reason," she said. "We may not like them, but the faster you go, the greater your injury when you have an accident. Speed does kill. It's corny and it's cliche, but speed does kill."