October 23, 2014

Medina
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High anxiety

WADSWORTH — The city is seeking funding to relieve congestion in the High Street and Interstate 76 area.

The estimated $18.6 million project qualifies for funding from the Ohio Department of Transportation because at least three areas of the highway and corridor were declared “hot spots” in ODOT studies done in 2005 and 2006, City Engineer Tom Tucker said.

“They call them ‘hot spots,’ and those are areas of high accidents,” he said. He could not provide specific accident figures.

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Wadsworth plans to widen the High Street corridor and make improvements to the highway interchange at Interstate 76 around 2012. Recently the city applied for $7.5 million in funds from the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Transportation Review Advisory Council to help fund the $18.6 million project, City Engineer Tom Tucker said. (Lisa Hlavinka / Gazette)

ODOT likely will award the city an approximately $5 million grant for the High Street corridor and a $3 million grant for the highway interchange, he said.

“Originally, we were looking at a five-lane section and a cost of $6 million, but through time and expansion of the project we’re up to $18 million, so we’ve gained $8 million in funding, but we still have a gap in our financing,” Tucker said.

The city recently applied for $7.5 million from ODOT’s Transportation Review Advisory Council to partially close that gap, Tucker said.

The remainder of the project’s cost would be covered by the city.

Tucker said he does not anticipate the project to begin until at least 2012.

The city plans to begin the project by rebuilding the Interstate 76 interchange, he said.

“The bridge over I-76 will be widened from two lanes to seven, with two southbound left-turn lanes and one northbound left-turn lane,” he said.

South of Smokerise Drive to I-76, High Street will be widened from four to six lanes, he said. North of Smokerise, High Street will be widened to three lanes with a center two-way left-turn lane.

Next, the city will replace numerous driveways to businesses on High Street with access drives to create a smoother flow of traffic, Tucker said. Barriers also will be erected to control traffic.

“At any one time, you have cars leaving all of these driveways, and at the same time, there are more coming in,” Tucker said. “So there are a lot of conflicts, a lot of potential for accidents here.”

Additionally, Great Oaks Trail will be aligned with Park Center Drive to provide better east-west flow.

“It’s a safety project, and it’s also a capacity project,” he said.

High Street last was widened in 1985, Tucker said. As the 20-year life of the road wound down in 2003, the city began looking at improving traffic flow in the area, he said.

Contact Lisa Hlavinka at (330) 721-4048 or lhlavinka@ohio.net.