Work to make a dangerous stretch of U.S. 35 at Beavercreek safer has been years in the making.
Six government bodies now have agreed to cover the $15 million cost of transforming the section into a “superstreet,” and work could begin as soon as fall of 2019.
The Ohio Department of Transportation’s 2016 review of the superstreet proposal rated it No. 1 for transportation projects across the state, said Laura Loges, director of marketing and public affairs for the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission.
Loges said the Greene County section of U.S. 35 “has long been a troublesome stretch of this national corridor.”
The project consists of installing roundabouts at two intersections along U.S. 35 at Factory Road and Orchard Lane. In addition, Shakertown Road will be connected to Factory Road, and the Shakertown entrance/exit on U.S. 35 will be eliminated.
Greene County commissioners recently approved $1.5 million for the project, which includes payments on loan from Beavercreek and Beavercreek Twp. ODOT is contributing $8.5 million, which includes federal gas tax revenue; the Regional Planning Commission is contributing $3 million; and the Transportation Review Advisory Council is pitching in $2.7 million to get the job done, according to ODOT spokesman Brian Cunningham.
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“We’re still on track … moving to construction starting in the fall of 2019 and ending in mid-summer 2021,” Cunningham said.
The bidding process for design and construction contracts is expected to be open in the fall of this year, Cunningham added.
Loges said the Regional Planning Commission decided to get involved “based on the merits of the project.”
“This funding … will bring this long-needed improvement to fruition,” Loges said.
State records show a high rate of crashes along U.S. 35 between Factory Road and Orchard Lane.
From 2013 to 2015, there were 204 crashes in that half-mile stretch, an average of 68 crashes a year, according to statistics provided by ODOT.
At 71 percent, the vast majority of those were rear-end crashes, according to ODOT’s records. Crashes were most frequent during the afternoon rush hour, from 3 to 6 p.m., although there was a notable spike during the morning commute at 7 a.m., according to the records.
Ninety-eight of the 204 crashes, or 48 percent, occurred in the eastbound side of U.S. 35, and 33 percent occurred on the westbound side, according to the records.
Through the year, most crashes occurred between August and October, although there was a noticeable spike in crashes in the month of June during the three-year period, according to the records.
The planned superstreet on U.S. 35 will create U-turns instead of left-hand turns at the Orchard Lane and Factory Road intersections. Drivers traveling across U.S. 35 from Factory Road and Orchard Lane won’t be able to go straight through without turning right and making a U-Turn. Those who want to go left onto U.S. 35 also would have to make a U-turn to get through.
The first superstreet in Ohio spans three intersections of the Ohio 4 bypass in Butler County. It opened in the fall of 2011.
“Studies have shown this project will reduce the frequency of traffic accidents and will increase throughput by more than 20 percent,” said Greene County Administrator Brandon Huddleson.
Competition is high among counties and municipalities to get funding from ODOT for traffic safety projects, Huddleson said.
The roundabouts are a bit of a compromise: the long-term solution is to add full interchanges with on and off ramps at Factory Road and Trebein/Valley roads, officials said.
“The superstreet option was chosen due to its reduced cost of construction versus full interchanges,” Huddleson said.
The cost to build full interchanges at those intersections is estimated at $100 to $120 million, Cunningham said.