For some people, there are more questions than answers.
About 50 people attended a discussion forum about the roundabout Thursday morning at Huron County Public Health’s headquarters, 180 Milan Ave.
“These are just very preliminary plans,” said Lindsey Leber, coordinator of the Huron County Safe Communities Coalition, which organized the event.
“There are no funds secured for this project whatsoever,” she added. “We wanted to get the community’s input and opinions and ideas first. We don’t have all the details yet because we’re just seeing if this is something that we should move forward on.”
The coalition is made up of members of law enforcement, schools, government agencies, engineers, service organizations, health and medical agencies, businesses and media, as well as community leaders and others interested in improving traffic safety in the county. The coalition’s mission is “to save lives and reduce injuries on Ohio’s roads through leadership and partnering efforts.”
Huron County Sheriff Todd Corbin, who serves on the coalition, said the group’s main goal is safety and to “do what (the community) wants us to do.”
Is construction of a roundabout for that dangerous intersection something the community wants? Time will tell.
Here’s what is known about the proposed project so far:
Q. Why was this intersection chosen as the coalition’s focus?
A. The U.S. 20 and Ohio 601 intersection is known for being the cause of many serious injury accidents in recent years, including at least two that resulted in fatalities. From January 2013 through May 2018, the intersection saw 34 crashes — 23 of which were angle crashes, followed by seven left-hand crashes, two rear-endings, one sideswipe and one backing crash. Two of those accidents took people’s lives and another 19 caused injuries. Statistics reveal failure-to-yield citations were issued in 25 of those 34 crashes. Among the drivers involved were 10 people between the ages of 16 and 25, and 18 between the ages 26 and 64.
This isn’t the first attempt to curb the danger here, though. In 2001, efforts began by relocating the southbound stop sign and during the next six years oversized dual stop signs were installed. Two sets of rumble strips were installed in 2007 and five years later brighter crossroad warning signs were installed. In 2014, the rumble strips were recut and a third set was added.
Corbin and Huron County EMA director Art Mead said accidents there “are so severe” that dispatchers automatically contact several agencies to assist whenever one is reported.
Q. What would the roundabout be like, if plans move forward?
A. The project, which the coalition said “is just in the very preliminary stages,” is proposed to:
• Be one lane (with a truck apron) and circular in shape, with a diameter of about 90 to 180 feet
• Have a daily service volume up to 25,000 vehicle per day
• Include splitter islands and geometric curvatures leading up to the roundabout entrance to force vehicles to slow down before entering the roundabout at a speed of about 15 to 25 mph
• Have a counterclockwise traffic flow, with entering vehicles yielding to those already in the circle
• Include an additional paved area for larger trucks, trailers, etc. called a truck apron. The truck apron will be separated from the regular roundabout lane by a two- to three-inch rolled curb, preventing cars and smaller vehicles from using the apron as a second lane.
• Impose no additional county or local tax dollar requirements, since about $100 million is available in competitive safety funding through the state and federal governments.
Leber said owners whose property may be affected by the proposed roundabout would be compensated for any land needed to be used for its construction and for the relocation of driveways and/or mailboxes. She said no businesses — including the Gulf Inn — are expected to be relocated or closed because of the proposed project.
Q. What are the benefits of a roundabout?
A. According the coalition's data:
• Reduces congestion, with the least amount of total delay time compared to no changes taking place or the installation of a traffic signal
• Improved safety, with more than a 90-percent reduction in fatalities, 76-percent reduction in injuries and 35-percent reduction in all crashes
“Roundabouts along high-speed, two-lane rural highways reduced overall crashes by 68 percent and injury crashes by 88 percent,” Ohio Department of Transportation engineer Julie Cichello said, adding it was the safest option for the intersection.
• Reduces pollution and fuel use since few stops/hard stops will be needed and there will be less idle time.