53 study to involve safety input

Representatives from the Ohio Department of Transportation and consulting firm DLZ met with various public officials to discuss a SR 53 corridor study at the Transportation Coalition of North Central Ohio meeting Friday.

ODOT is to fund a safety study to consider problem areas from Upper Sandusky to Port Clinton and to determine the types of short-, medium- and long-term improvements that can be made to the roadway.

DLZ is to complete the study with input from Tiffin and Sandusky, Seneca, Ottawa and Hancock counties by analyzing traffic and crash data, evaluating horizontal alignments such as shoulders and drop offs, evaluating the line of sight and looking at environmental issues along the corridor, said ODOT Project Manager Mike Stormer.

They are also to look at the number of lanes, shoulder widths, legal and posted speed limits, number and location of driveway access point and turn lanes in intersections.

DLZ is also to consider the impact of alcohol consumption and seasonal adjustment factors due to high

traffic during summer months to Lake Erie.

The safety study report will help to prioritize the potential projects along the corridor and help the affected entities find the funding needed for each individual project.

Vickie Wildeman from DLZ said crash data has been collected from 2010-12.

Six fatal crashes occurred over the three-year period, while three occurred in Seneca County and Tiffin alone.

Tiffin experienced 105 crashes over 3.5 miles, with 68 percent occurring at an intersection.

In addition to Tiffin’s crashes, Seneca County had 139 crashes outside of the city limits. Most of the crashes were rear end impacts.

Ottawa County experienced two fatal crashes and had 19 crashes over a total of 12 miles. Sandusky County had one fatal crash, with 149 crashes over 14 miles, not including the US 20 bypass. Wyandot County had 33 crashes over 9.5 miles.

A total of 455 crashes occurred in the corridor.

Wildeman said there are several sources of funding available, including ODOT Safety Funding, Municipal Bridge Program and local funds. ODOT’s Transportation Review Advisory Council could also help provide funding for the project.

DLZ also provided a questionnaire to the city and county representatives about specific locations where safety related problems currently exist.

Some of the problems mentioned in the meeting include SR 53 from McCutchenville to Tiffin, the railroad crossing south of McCutchenville and the intersections at CR 6, CR 52, TR 26, CR 14 and TR 54.

Other possible projects include adding passing lanes, widening the corridor to a four lane highway, adding turn lanes at intersections and reconfiguring interchange ramps.

In public comment, Tiffin Councilman Rich Focht said he thought the widening of SR 53 and adding turn lanes at intersection would improve safety and efficiency of moving traffic, which would have an impact on economic development.

Clouse Construction President Lenny Clouse said he would like to see intersections widened in order to provide easier travel for trucks along SR 53.

Mayor Aaron Montz also suggested considering a bypass around Tiffin, since nearly a quarter of the crashes along the corridor occurred within Tiffin city limits.

Seneca County Commissioner Fred Zoeller asked whether it was a possibility to join funding between the counties to speed up work on prioritized areas.

Stormer said the coalition would have to discuss the corridor’s issues, look at funding and decide on whether to focus resources.

ODOT is to conduct four meetings over the course of the study to create a prioritized list of necessary changes, with a tentative public hearing on the final safety study report in September.