Roadwork is about to get underway in downtown Xenia and continue over the next several months as the city prepares for an ambitious project to make traveling through the heart of the city safer and more welcoming.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is overseeing the nearly $1.5 million Safer grant construction project, which is set to begin the week of Sept. 25 and continue until spring.
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Xenia Spokesman Lee Warren said there will be a temporary inconvenience, but the results will be worth it for commuters, residents and business owners.
“Some businesses will be impacted during construction,” Warren said, “but all to realize that in the end the ODOT modifications should do more to bring pedestrians and consumer-oriented bicyclists to the downtown core while promoting greater safety for all.”
The contractor selected to do the work is Complete General Construction Company, and to fund the project, the city is paying $124,720 as a match to state funding of $29,373 and federal funding of $1.321,826.
The project is incorporating some of the latest advances in traffic and pedestrian control, according to Xenia City Planner Brian Forschner.
Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon technology, in which a signal rapidly flashes to alert motorists of pedestrians, will be installed at Prairie Trail and Creekside Trail crossings, where people have been struck crossing the street.
At Market Street, a hybrid beacon is to be installed, in which pedestrians can press a button and force oncoming traffic to stop. Those improvements, combined with the plan to add concrete medians where people can cross half the street if necessary, will make it safer for pedestrians in the downtown area, Forschner said.
The project is also aimed at making it safer for motorists by reconfiguring the four-way intersection at Detroit and Church and eliminating the fifth option of Detroit Boulevard.
The project consists of eliminating one southbound lane for motorists on Detroit from East Church to East Third streets and installing a two-way bike lane.
Forschner said a traffic study showed eliminating one southbound lane for motorists would not significantly impact the flow of traffic, and the new bike lane will make it safer for bicyclists traveling on the Little Miami Scenic Trail.
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“The amount of traffic does not warrant the number of lanes there are,” Forschner said. “You can remove a southbound lane and not have an impact on traffic congestion to accommodate a bike lane area. It’s an affordable way to create a bike path on a roadway instead of having to use the sidewalks, where there’s a danger of striking a pedestrian … This is a dedicated side area that cyclists can use safely.”
Other facets of the project that will change the way downtown Xenia looks and functions include eliminating the traffic signals along West Main Street at West and King streets. Those signals are too close to other signalized intersections, according to the city. In addition, Lane width will be reduced along Detroit Street to discourage speeding and make it safer for pedestrians to cross.
“This project is going to make downtown a better functioning, more welcoming and safer place to travel,” Forschner said.