Congestion, crashes prompt ODOT study of U.S. Route 33

SCOTT GERFEN
editorial@thisweeknews.com
ThisWeek group

Traffic congestion and crash patterns have prompted the Ohio Department of Transportation to launch a new study of U.S. Route 33 between state Route 104 and Pickerington Road.

"ODOT identified this corridor because the locations were flagged on our screening tools for congestion and safety," said Breanna Badanes, ODOT spokeswoman. "For example, we see there are slow speeds, inconsistent travel time and higher-than-expected crash numbers at several locations along this stretch."

Daily traffic counts completed last year showed more than 76,000 vehicles travel Route 33 between Interstate 270 and Hamilton Road; more than 68,000 use the road between Hamilton and Gender roads; more than 52,000 vehicles use the route between Gender and Hill/Diley roads in Canal Winchester; and nearly 46,000 vehicles use Route 33 between Hill/Diley and Pickerington roads, according to ODOT.

LJB Inc., a civil- and structural-engineering firm, was awarded a contract for approximately $500,000 through ODOT's Highway Safety Improvement Program to complete the study, which will examine how much traffic flows in the corridor, crash data, current traffic capacity and how interchanges or intersections are configured.

Changes might include intersection improvements, road widening or traffic signals on freeway on-ramps, Badanes said.

"There are all sorts of different solutions that they will consider and then figure out what's feasible and what's most cost-effective for that section of the corridor," she said.

Recommendations are expected by spring 2021. However, initial data could be available as early as fall.

This isn't the first time ODOT examined the Route 33 corridor. In fact, it implemented some recommendations from a 2004 study that included widening the highway in both directions between Hamilton Road and I-270.

The $14 million project, completed last year, created three lanes of travel in both directions and also widened bridges over Big Walnut Creek. Crews also made repairs to the Gender Road bridge over Route 33.

Other completed improvements include new interchanges at Hill/Diley and Winchester roads in Carroll; closure of the High Street and Bowen Road intersection; converting Ebright Road to an overpass; and implementing turn restrictions at Bixby Road.

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