Home » Business owners at Delmont Rd and US 22 looking forward to improved safety, thanks to ODOT – Lancaster Eagle Gazette

Business owners at Delmont Rd and US 22 looking forward to improved safety, thanks to ODOT – Lancaster Eagle Gazette

by Arifa Rana

HOCKING TOWNSHIP — Steve Parrish has owned Delmont Fleet Services at the corner of Delmont Road and US 22 since the early 2000s, and for as long as he’s been there, it’s been a difficult area for traffic.
In an effort to address safety concerns at Delmont and 22, along with Ohio 159 and 22, the Ohio Department of Transportation has announced two roundabouts will be installed at the respective intersections.
There have been many crashes at the intersections, ranging from fender benders to injury or even fatal crashes. The state began seeking public comment for solutions in March of 2020, just as the coronavirus pandemic was escalating.
The dual roundabouts were the preferred alternative, beating options like no construction; making one large roundabout to fit both intersections, or relocating either Ohio 159 or Delmont Road to the other to create one intersection at US 22.
The project is expected to cost around $4.21 million. From designs presented on the ODOT website for the project, there are expected to be some alterations to US 22, with slight curves for traffic entering and exiting the roundabouts.
Bidding for the construction contract of the project is set to start at the end of April, and construction is expected to start this June, with construction wrapping up in November 2023.
In 2020, ODOT engineers said there were several factors under consideration, such as cost of construction and of right-of-way, as well as how traffic would be impacted. Roundabouts were also preferred because of their ability to ease and direct traffic, without drivers trying to race a traffic signal.
Karen Reese, owner and operator of D-K Carryout on Delmont Road south of US 22, said she’s seen her fair share of crashes over the years, including one at the end of March that required a driver to be transported by medical helicopter from the scene. She said they were the last to know about any changes, as the project’s progress has been quiet since the scheduled open houses in 2020.
Parrish said he attended the meeting in 2020, then also didn’t hear much else about the project. He said he knows something needs to be done because traffic already backs up whenever people are coming back from their workdays.
“As long as they make the roundabouts large enough, there shouldn’t be an issue with semi-trucks making it through them. They can work correctly, but they just have to be installed correctly. Drivers also need to take the time to get used to them, too,” Parrish said.
He said he’s observed drivers headed south on 22 traveling at high speeds, endangering other drivers turning onto Delmont or 159. There have been drivers turning onto 22 that pull out ahead of vehicles going too fast.
“When they’re flying down 22, you know some of them were racing to beat the yellow light by the bypass, so there needs to be a way to slow down the traffic,” he said. “And people may have concerns about traffic, but we’ve already got plenty that comes through here. With the gas station coming in recently, Delmont is experiencing high traffic volumes, especially as trucks use it to cut over from (Ohio) 188.”
Fairfield County Engineer Jeremiah Upp said he’s glad to see ODOT stepping in to improve the safety of the two intersections.
“There is a tremendously high number of injury and fatal accidents at these intersections, and with traffic climbing, the potential for crashes will only rise. I know there is negativity connected to roundabouts, but it just takes time for people to get used to them,” Upp said.
He cited the roundabouts installed in Hocking County, on Ohio 664 and US 33: they were unpopular when they were first installed, but over time, those negative comments went away.
“I can’t speak on why the state decided to go with two roundabouts instead of one, but in my experience, there was probably details like right-of-way acquisition in the way. Many people may have preferred a traffic signal, but ODOT has a reason for choosing the roundabouts, so we’ll have to trust them,” Upp said. “From the county’s standpoint, we’re excited something is being done to improve safety in the area, especially as we see Delmont become busier.”
Barrett Lawlis is a reporter with the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, part of the USA Today Network. You can share story ideas or comments with him at 740-681-4342 or send an e-mail to blawlis@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @BarrettLawlis

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