It’s no secret state Route 18 between Medina and Interstate 71 can be aggravating — especially during rush hour traffic.
The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, a regional planning consortium, has proposed a $27 million project that could relieve the congestion by widening the highway between Nettleton Road and Foote Road, near Medina Hospital and the Medina city limits.
The Ohio Department of Transportation has secured just over $4 million in funding to complete preliminary engineering and design development for lane widening .
“We are still in the very early stages of that project,” said Christine Myers, public information officer for ODOT District 3.
Route 18 at the I-71 interchange was widened and improved several years ago. But to the west, the highway narrows to only one line in each direction, plus a center turn lane, at Rustic Hills Drive, just west of Nettleton Road.
The July NOACA report that proposed the widening ranked the stretch of state Route 18 between River Styx Road and Rustic Hills Drive as the most congested in a five-county region.
Meyers said the report confirms what ODOT officials already knew from their own studies.
“To have that information, it adds to what we know — it’s an extremely congested area,” she said.
The NOACA report details congested roadways in Medina, Lorain, Cuyahoga, Geauga and Lake counties. The last time NOACA analyzed traffic congestion for the five counties was in 2008.
The stretch of Route 18 identified in the study had the second-highest volume-to-capacity ratio in the region at 1.229. Roadways operating at capacity score a 1, those with a score higher than 1 are above capacity and those below 1 are operating below capacity.
In the summary of the report, NOACA said the congestion study “plays an important role in the continuing planning process to address congestion issues within the region. It helps decision makers identify and fund projects that will help alleviate traffic congestion.”
The state hopes to begin buying the property needed to widen the roadway in late 2015 and get work started in 2016.
At a public meeting in February, ODOT laid out their initial plans to widen the roadway, including adding two turning lanes at Foote
Road and a 10-foot-wide multipurpose path along the highway between Foote and River Styx roads to give pedestrians access to nearby parks.
Myers said the proposal was considered a major project and the agency is still working to secure federal and state funds to complete the work.
The Transportation Review Advisory Council, which assists ODOT in selecting large projects that will receive state funding, is scheduled to meet next week and could make a determination to contribute more funding for widening Route 18.