An intersection which has been generally considered to be one of the most dangerous in Jackson County is in line for a future safety-upgrade project, thanks to a major funding commitment from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).
Gov. DeWine and ODOT Director Dr. Jack Marchbanks recently announced details on $121 million in new traffic safety projects planned for Ohio, including the installation of approximately two dozen roundabouts in numerous counties across the state.
Locally, Jackson County is being awarded $1.1 million for the construction of a turbo lane at Dixon Run Road and U.S. Route 35 in Bloomfield Township. The Nov. 4 release describes this project as “high severity,” and as having a “high application score.”
According to ODOT District 9 Public Information Officer, Matthew McGuire, a turbo lane is an intersection-improvement typically used at the intersection of two-lane side roads and four-lane main roads, like is present at Dixon Run Road and U.S. Route 35, which is where the A&A Truck Stop is located. From a layout standpoint, McGuire says this project will be very similar to one recently completed at the U.S. Route 35 Rest Area in western Jackson County.
“It’s basically the installation of acceleration and turn lanes for traffic merging on and off U.S. Route 35 and Dixon Run Road to give drivers a place to safely get up to speed and merge into mainline traffic without having to try and turn directly into a passing lane,” McGuire stated.
As for a timeframe, McGuire told The Telegram that, though it is hard to say with certainty, the Jackson County project is currently expected to begin sometime in the spring or early summer of 2025.
Meanwhile, many other of the planned traffic-safety projects which have been funded around the state will involve roundabouts.
“A top priority of my administration has been making travel in our state safer — particularly at Ohio intersections that are known to be dangerous,” Gov. DeWine said in a Nov. 4 press release. “Studies show that roundabouts significantly reduce the likelihood of serious or deadly intersection crashes, so we’re investing in these projects today to save lives in the future.”
According to ODOT, there were only six traffic deaths at Ohio roundabouts from 2017-2021 compared to 1,126 deaths at a signalized or stop-controlled intersection.
“Roundabouts save lives. They reduce severe crashes, move traffic more efficiently, and are cheaper to maintain than signalized intersections,” ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks stated.
In total, the funding will support project development, right-of-way, and construction of 50 projects in 31 counties across the state. In addition to the roundabout projects, other projects include safer pedestrian crossings, traffic-signal upgrades, and turning-lane improvements.
Funding for these projects will be awarded through ODOT’s Highway Safety Improvement Program which, under the DeWine-Husted Administration, has grown to become one of the largest traffic safety programs in the country. In May, Gov. DeWine announced $51 million in traffic safety improvement projects to address an increase in pedestrian-involved traffic crashes and fatal roadway departures on state and local roads.
These grants are another step in Gov. DeWine’s comprehensive plan to improve the safety of Ohio’s roads. In 2019, he directed ODOT to put focus on improving 150 of the most dangerous intersections in the state. This year, he announced an increase in Ohio’s yearly funding allocation for local bridge projects by $47.5 million for the next five years.
To help address unintentional motor vehicle crashes, which are one of the leading causes of death for teenagers and young adults in Ohio, Gov. DeWine also launched the “Ready, Test, Drive!” virtual driver assessment program to more accurately assess new drivers’ road readiness and help identify skills needing improvement. In 2020, Gov. DeWine formed the Ohio Traffic Safety Council to coordinate and monitor all statewide safety initiatives; launched a new work zone traffic enforcement plan in coordination with the Ohio State Highway Patrol; and awarded grants to juvenile courts to help them give young drivers more access to advanced driver training.