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Planned Canton Road upgrades presented

12/5/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

SPRINGFIELD — The fourth proposal in about 15 years for improvements to the Canton Road/U.S. 224 area was presented to business and other affected property owners recently at Springfield High School.

The plan, a collaborative effort between the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Summit County Engineer’s Office, is designed to address the high accident rate in the corridor, according to project manager Joe Paradise, of the Engineer’s Office.

“There are about 80-90 accidents a year in this corridor,” said Paradise. “We have got to stop left turns from a number of businesses.”

He added that the number of driveway cuts from businesses located around the intersection has contributed to the problem.

In the project, ODOT will be responsible for improvements to Canton Road from U.S. 224 north to Farmdale Road, and the Engineer’s Office will be responsible for Canton Road from U.S. 224 south to Sanitarium Road, according to the plan.

The plan focuses on Canton Road between Farmdale Road to just south of Springfield Lake Drive, and U.S. 224 from the Pizza Hut driveways to just west of Canton Road. According to the plan, the proposed improvements include:

√ creating double northbound left-turn lanes on Canton Road approaching U.S. 224 to shorten the queue of left turning vehicles;

√ designating an eastbound right-turn-only lane on U.S. 224 to improve traffic flow;

√ installing a raised median along Canton Road between Meadow Drive and Old Home Road;

√ adding a center left-turn lane on Canton Road south of Meadow Drive and north of Old Home Road (beyond the medians);

√ adding two U-turn locations on Canton Road, at Springfield Lake Drive in Lakemore and Linwood Road in Springfield, both designed to improve access to properties blocked by the median;

√ adding sidewalks for a short distance on the north side of U.S. 224 east of Canton Road and the east side of Canton Road, north of U.S. 224 almost to Old Home Road, and the west side of Canton Road, south of U.S. 224 to a short distance beyond Springfield Lake Drive; and

√ consolidating, relocating and closing some business driveways.

“These proposals are designed to improve safety and reduce accidents, and to reduce congestion,” said Paradise. “This plan offers the most bang for the buck from a cost-benefit analysis.”

Previous proposals for improvements to the area did not happen for a variety of reasons, including ODOT’s determination that one did not eliminate the severe intersection angle at Canton Road and U.S. 224; one would have eliminated four businesses or more near the intersection; and one by former Summit County Engineer Greg Bachman  “did not gain any traction,” according to officials from the Engineer’s Office.

“The current proposal satisfies all the safety criteria established by ODOT, is a joint venture with ODOT to minimize impacts to Canton Road at the U.S. 224 intersection; is funded through the design phase; has locked down 65 percent of the construction funds, with the remaining funds expected to be locked down in January 2014; minimizes right-of-way takes; builds the original proposal of an eastbound right-turn lane; and avoids the elimination of any business on Canton Road,” said Heidi Swindell, government affairs liaison for the Engineer’s Office.

According to Swindell, funding for the estimated $10 million current project will come from federal safety funds, ODOT funds and the Summit County Engineer’s Office, which is also applying for additional funding from the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study for Federal Highway Administration Surface Transportation Program funds.

Work on the project is scheduled to start in 2018, according to Paradise. He added comments about the proposed changes will be considered and can be sent to jparadise@sum mitengineer.net until Dec. 9.

Local officials have submitted ideas and concerns regarding the project.

Springfield Trustee Dean Young said he thinks the project’s “ideas are good.”

“The median should cut down on accidents,” he said. “We are encouraged. There will be some inconveniences during construction, but the safety improvements are welcome and needed.”

Young said township officials met with project officials earlier this year to provide some comments, and project officials have incorporated some of those suggestions.

“One concern was to increase the walkability of the community, and we asked for sidewalks along the west side of Canton Road from the Tri-County Plaza and to Canton Road and along U.S. 224 from Canton Road to Canfield Road,” said Young. “We did get a portion of those sidewalks added.”

Township officials plan to provide further comments, he added.

“One thing we are looking for is streetscape elements,” said Young.

Lakemore Mayor Rick Justice said the proposed project has a lot of positives.

“It’s all about safety in the community, but we also want it to be a nice looking project and not inhibit business,” he said. “I am generally pleased with the project, especially after they took our concerns into consideration by making the area community friendly and adding sidewalks to the Tri-County Plaza.”

Justice added he had some concerns for the businesses located at the U.S. 224 and Canton Road intersection, where a number of driveway closures and consolidations are planned.

“I hope the businesses will have a voice in this and that they [project planners] will make it work as well for them,” said Justice.

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