Roundabout possible near new Franklin HS, school board could help funding

This is an conceptual drawing of a proposed new gateway and roundabout for the city of Franklin. City officials are looking to align the driveway to the new high school and the driveway of Franklin Community Park that would be connected by a roundabout to keep traffic moving on East Sixth Street/Ohio 123. The Franklin Board of Education said it would commit up to $325,000 toward a roundabout if its traffic engineering study recommends it. The intersection is currently programmed for a four-way stop light, but the city is reconsidering the roundabout to improve safety around the new high school and Community Park. CONTRIBUTED/CITY OF FRANKLIN
This is an conceptual drawing of a proposed new gateway and roundabout for the city of Franklin. City officials are looking to align the driveway to the new high school and the driveway of Franklin Community Park that would be connected by a roundabout to keep traffic moving on East Sixth Street/Ohio 123. The Franklin Board of Education said it would commit up to $325,000 toward a roundabout if its traffic engineering study recommends it. The intersection is currently programmed for a four-way stop light, but the city is reconsidering the roundabout to improve safety around the new high school and Community Park. CONTRIBUTED/CITY OF FRANKLIN

Franklin’s school board supports constructing a roundabout on East Sixth Street/Ohio 123 that would be aligned with the entrances of the new high school and Community Park.

However, whether the school district kicks in $325,000 toward the roundabout construction will depend on whether a traffic engineering study recommends that it’s in the best interest of Franklin students and residents.

School Superintendent Michael Sander recommended the roundabout because it’s safer.

The Kleingers Group of West Chester Twp. was hired to do traffic studies as part of the project to build a new high school and renovate the current high school into a junior high school. As part of that, the traffic study is examining whether to stay with the already approved four-way traffic signal at the Sixth Street intersection or switch to a roundabout.

Steve Korte, a transportation engineer with Kleingers, said roundabouts are safer, more efficient and prevent T-bone crashes because of the softer angles and lower speeds.

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He said the Ohio Department of Transportation has reported roundabouts have led to a 44% reduction in traffic crashes and between 72% and 87% reduction in fatal crashes.

Mark Nolt, a transportation engineer with Kleingers, said they have met with city officials and have completed some traffic counts, finding that there is a significant amount of traffic in the mornings and evenings coming from Interstate 75. A right turn lane might need to be added to the roundabout, he said.

Franklin City Engineer Barry Conway estimated the roundabout to cost about $1.8 million.

The cost for the four-way signalized intersection was $827,346. The city already has been awarded a federal grant of $530,881 and would be responsible for the $296,465 in local costs.

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Some school board members were concerned about the costs to the district, as well as traffic backups.

Sander said this was a win-win for the district because if the traffic study says a stop light would be the better alternative, that project already is funded by the city and federal governments.

Board President Andrew Fleming said he thought, “Sander’s recommendation was sound because it lessened the risk.”

“We’re pretty excited about the (roundabout) project,” said Franklin City Manager Jonathan Westendorf. “We think this will be a huge improvement for safety and aesthetics.”

City Council will consider an application to the Ohio Public Works Commission for the roundabout project at its next meeting, Westendorf said. If the city is awarded that grant, Conway said it could cover up to 50% of the costs for the roundabout. He said the application is due next week.

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