Drivers fighting long traffic jams at U.S. 33 and Winchester Road in Carroll might get some relief in a few years as the Ohio Department of Transportation was awarded $8.5 million to build a super street intersection.
Design work should begin soon and construction is scheduled to start in 2016.
“We definitely need something done,” Carroll Mayor Tammy Drobina said. “Not being an engineer, I don’t know what the best solution is. But I trust ODOT.”
She said the railroad bridge close to the intersection limits what can be done to alleviate traffic flow.
With a super street intersection, vehicles no longer would be able to turn left off Winchester Road and High Street. Instead, they would turn right into a U-turn lane to access the highway. Traffic would be able to turn right and left from U.S. 33. Additionally, green light time for drivers on U.S. 33 would increase.
Left turns onto the highway from Winchester Road and High Street are a major cause of traffic backups, said ODOT.
Super streets are effective for 10 to 15 years, depending on how much traffic increases, according to ODOT.
The money comes from ODOT’s State Safety Program. ODOT puts aside about $102 million each year for improvements at high-crash areas. About $8 million will go toward construction with $500,000 going for right-of-way acquisition.
Property acquisition will start in 2015, according to ODOT District 5 Deputy Director Joe Rutherford. He said construction should be complete in one construction season, or about six months.
While the super street is considered a temporary solution, Rutherford said it could be permanent if traffic does not increase too much.
“We’ll take a look at the information as we get it and decide what we want to do,” he said. Rutherford also said the super street project could be scrapped if a permanent solution came up instead.
“The super street doesn’t do much for people sitting in traffic right now,” Drobina said. “But it is something.”
She said she hoped money would become available later on to build a permanent solution to the traffic problem at the intersection.
The state wanted to build a $60 million interchange at U.S. 33 and Winchester Road as part of the plan to make U.S. 33 a limited-access freeway from the Lancaster bypass to Interstate 70. The project did not have a starting date, but it would have removed the traffic signal at the intersection.
This year, however, the project was removed from the state Transportation Review Advisory Council funding list.
No work is scheduled to ease traffic congestion for the nearby U.S. 33/Pickerington Road intersection, said Rutherford. However, ODOT does plan a feasibility study to see what the best options are.
The agency this summer removed flashing warning lights at the intersections because it said motorists would speed up when they knew the light was about to change, which led to more severe crashes.