Liberty Township: Plan in place to soften Seldom Seen Road S-curve by summer 2023

Jim Fischer
ThisWeek
A vehicle passes through the S-curve on Seldom Seen Road near Emily Traphagen Park in Liberty Township on Jan. 27. Township trustees and Delaware County officials have agreed to cooperate on an improvement project for the curves.

A dangerous S-curve that has drawn the attention of Liberty Township motorists for years is on its way to being redesigned.

Liberty Township trustees and Delaware County officials have agreed to cooperate on an improvement project for the curves on Seldom Seen Road between Sawmill Parkway and Riverside Drive, just east of Emily Traphagen Park. The agreement, signed last month, sets the stage for grant funding to be pursued and the design process to begin.

“This stretch of road has been a big deal (and) has been talked about several times over the years,” trustee Shyra Eichhorn said. “We’ve made some tweaks, adding flashing signs (and) moving the speed-limit signs farther back.”

“The area has been a concern for many years now,” Doug Riedel, township liaison with the Delaware County Engineer’s Office, told trustees Jan. 6.

He said the engineer's office is ready to move forward with the township on improvements to make the curves safer.

Rob Riley, deputy assistant county engineer, said improving the S-curve was discussed 15 years ago, but the project was postponed, at least in part, due to lack of funding. 

“Since then, some things have changed. First, traffic has increased significantly on this section of road, more than doubling in 15 years,” Riley told ThisWeek. “Second, the Delaware County commissioners, through the (county) roadway-grant-assistance program, have increased the grant-matching amount to encourage our local transportation partners to seek state and federal grant funding by making the local share more affordable.”

“There’s been a solution out there. There just hasn’t been an appetite to pursue funding,” trustee Bryan Newell told ThisWeek.

Both township and county officials have said that securing an Ohio Public Works Commission grant would be vital to the project.

Riley said local officials are encouraged because grant funding is distributed on a per-capita basis, and Delaware County's population growth means more state transportation funding is available compared to 15 years ago. 

Trustees plan to seek $500,000 in grant funding, with the township providing $150,000 and the county matching that amount to cover the initial cost estimate of $800,000, Riley said.

Ohio Department of Public Safety data shows seven accidents have been reported at the curves in the past five years, “involving vehicles either losing control or striking a vehicle in the opposite direction in the S-curve,” Riley said.

“We have no way of knowing whether there were other unreported crashes, such as vehicles running off the road, causing minimal damage and driving away,” he said.

“Anyone that has driven down that road knows that curve and how dangerous it can be,” Eichhorn said.

Riley said redesign of the double-curve is not complete, but he expects that “the ‘S’ would be softened to allow for traffic to pass through safely at the posted speed limit of 45 (miles per hour).”

The preliminary timetable for the project calls for construction to begin in late 2022, with completion planned for summer 2023, Riley said.

“We’re excited to be able to do this with as little out-of-pocket (money) from the township as possible,” Newell said.

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