By Nathan Pilling
XENIA — The Ohio Department of Transportation is close to funding a multimillion-dollar traffic safety project in Greene County, according to county commissioner Bob Glaser. The “superstreet” project on U.S. Route 35 in Beavercreek Township would see the elimination of left turns and straight-across driving at Factory Road and Orchard Lane, where accident numbers are high.
The superstreet concept forces a driver who wants to make a left turn onto a main highway to instead make a right turn followed by a U-turn onto that main road. The traffic lights at the Factory and Orchard intersections would be timed to be green for drivers on Route 35 for longer amounts of time, with the goal of reducing congestion and accidents. Glaser estimated “throughput” at the two intersections would be increased by about 60 percent if those two movements were eliminated.
According to a recent ODOT presentation, over a three-year period, there was an average of 100 rear-end accidents per year in this area.
“The whole key is to not have the jerky ‘stop and go,’ because when those lights flip, that’s where we get these rear-end accidents,” Glaser said. “When we start mixing the density of trucks out there that we have now, with passenger vehicles, that’s where we’re getting our serious, serious wrecks and that’s what we’re trying to eliminate with this whole process, that’s what it’s all about.”
According to ODOT documents, a recent estimate put the cost for the superstreet project at $12.5 million.
Plans for the project have not yet been finalized, but according to Glaser, once the City of Beavercreek, Beavercreek Township and Greene County give ODOT the green light, the project will move forward.
“I think there’s a good chance that we can make [the superstreet] happen,” county commissioner Tom Koogler said. “I think it’s a good interim step to solve the problem.”
“It’s been a long time coming,” county commissioner Alan Anderson said. “Everybody’s been keeping it moving, thinking about it, keeping it on the front-burner where it needed to be. We’re getting a fix that we didn’t have before.”
Local officials see the project as an interim “stopgap” solution for about 10 years or more, while plans and funding for a $120 million raised highway project – stretching about nine miles from North Fairfield Road to the Xenia Bypass – are developed further.
Local officials had applied for a portion of that funding through ODOT’s Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) last year, but were turned down in December.
“Looking at the reality of the TRAC funding, $120 million is a big ask,” Greene County Administrator Brandon Huddleson said. “The likelihood of us receiving the full amount to do that in the next several years is not good.”
While county commissioners said they were disappointed in the TRAC decision, the superstreet will act as a step toward the full project, according to Glaser, as local officials continue to apply for the TRAC funding.
“[The full $120 million highway is] too big of a project to attack and get done at this particular point in time,” Glaser said. “But if we break it into pieces, it can be manageable.”
Reach Nathan Pilling at 937-502-4498 or on Twitter @XDGNatePilling.