Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Underground Bridges & Roundabouts on Rt. 682

by Megan Gorey

Once all the snow melts away and the sun comes back out to warm up Southern Ohio, the bike paths and sidewalks of Athens will once again be busy with pedestrians. This also means more traffic, automobiles and people, crossing at the Richland Avenue and Route 682 intersection. According to Christina Knisely, council member at large, this intersection is one of the most dangerous intersections in the Ohio Department of Transportation region with the highest amount of auto accidents in the area per number of cars traveling through.

At a recent City Council meeting, the Transportation Committee discussed the $5,000 safety grant and the resolution that will be presented again to the council. According to Knisely, the construction will begin in the Spring of 2010 and the plan will have two major objectives:

1.) First, to slow down the traffic approaching the intersection. Freeway traffic, trucks, and community commuters approach the busy intersection of Richland Avenue and Rt. 682 at speeds of abou 50 mph. It is also very common for large semi-trucks to run the traffic light at the intersection.

2.) Second, make the intersection more accessible for pedestrians and bicyclists. The dangerous intersections makes it especially difficult to control crosswalks and ensure that people are able to cross those intersections safely.

These objectives will hopefully be met with the implementation of a large roundabout in the intersection to help slow down the traffic and make the flow of traffic through the intersection more smooth. There will also be a pedestrian tunnel constructed under the intersection that would also be more accessible for wheelchairs and bicycles.

Elahu Gosney, council member, explained that these projects are all part of a bigger plans for Athens over the next two years.

Elahu Gosney talks about collaborating with the Street Director

The council presented a proposal to provide $5,000 to help create a Mobility Manager position through an Ohio Department of Transportation grant for Athens County. After council meetings with President McDavis, there is a frustration expressed due to the various empty bus routes and empty buses running. The Mobility Manager would be in charge of coordinating local and regional transportation including implementing a new website for marketing these transit and combined routes.

City Council will be reviewing these resolutions at the meeting Monday, January 19th, at the City Building at 7:00 p.m.

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