An estimated $3.26 million project to improve traffic and pedestrian safety at the intersection of Pike, Greene and Seventh streets was back on the agenda during a marathon session of Marietta City Council's streets and transportation committee Tuesday.
"I asked for this specially dedicated streets meeting to take the public and council members through the process of where we've been, how we've arrived at the proposed alternative, and to lay out our recommendation for action to move this project forward," city engineer Joe Tucker told the committee members.
Kevin Grathwol, project manager with W.E. Stilson Consulting Group, which has been working on design alternatives for the project, said the intersection improvements are needed to reduce traffic congestion, improve safety, consider pedestrian needs and maintain access for businesses near the intersection.
"A WWW (Wood, Washington, Wirt Interstate Planning Commission) study in 2008 ranked this intersection as the worst in Marietta," Grathwol said. "A study between 2003 and 2005 showed there were 63 traffic accidents in that intersection, and during an updated study between 2008 and 2010 there were 79 accidents there. So the situation is not improving."
He said some short-term solutions, including upgraded traffic signalization and a prohibited left turn off of south Sixth Street onto Ohio 7, had probably resulted in some fewer mishaps at the intersection, but it is still a major location for accidents.
After three years of studies, preliminary designs, and meetings to garner public input on the proposed project, the preferred alternative would include dual left turn lanes for northbound traffic from Ohio 7 onto north Seventh Street as well as dual left turn lanes from north Seventh Street onto Ohio 7 north.
If you go
- Marietta City Council's planning, zoning, annexation and housing committee will meet at 3 p.m. today in the second floor conference room at 304 Putnam St., followed by a streets and transportation committee meeting at 4 p.m.
- All council and committee meetings, except executive sessions, are open to the public. More information is available at http://www.mariettaoh.net/
- For more information about the Pike, Greene and Seventh streets intersection project, go to http://www.pikegreene7th.com/, or use the link from the engineering department section of the city website.
The current left turn from north Seventh Street onto Greene Street at the Speedway store would be eliminated in favor of a right-turn only onto Greene from Seventh and a right-turn only onto Seventh Street from Greene.
A signal-protected left turn lane would also be provided for southbound traffic on Ohio 7 to turn onto south Seventh Street. A pedestrian island would also be installed at that location.
Other improvements include the installation of Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant signalized pedestrian crosswalks and curb ramps across Ohio 7 as well as across Greene and north Seventh streets.
In addition, the alley that now exists along Hardwood Center Drive and old Pike Street would be improved to a two-lane corridor between Greene and Ohio 7 to provide access to businesses located in that area.
Tucker said that alternative would be the city engineering department's recommendation for the intersection improvement project.
But some committee members and at least one Norwood area resident were not satisfied with the recommended solution.
"Currently I can turn left from north Seventh Street onto Greene Street, but this will make me drive all the way up Pike Street (Ohio 7 north) to Acme Street. And I would have to travel through five traffic signals just to get to my home," said Warner Street resident Louise Gwinn.
She added that traffic would likely use the improved Hardwood Drive and old Pike Street corridor as a shortcut between Pike and Greene streets instead of for access to businesses in that area.
Councilman Harley Noland, D-at at large, agreed, adding that many vehicles headed onto Pike Street from Hardwood Drive would be turning left, attempting to cross two lanes of traffic at that intersection which would not be controlled by signal lights.
"I think this alternative will create more accidents because Hardwood Drive will be used as a cut-through for traffic," Noland said. "This would be a disservice to our citizens, and I will vote against it."
Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, also had concerns about the Hardwood Drive and Pike Street intersection, as well as the elimination of left turns from north Seventh onto Greene Street. He said Marietta firefighters had told him those changes would likely cause more accidents.
"And are we just guessing that the number of accidents at the intersection will be reduced?" he asked. "What percentage of accidents is this proposal expected to reduce?"
Grathwol said he could not provide those figures Tuesday, but noted the proposed upgrades would improve the traffic capacity through the intersection, which would help reduce the number of accidents.
"We're not flying by the seat of our pants on this project," Tucker added. "This is based on solid engineering studies that are required to show a good return on the public's investment."
He noted the city had been selected to receive nearly $2.4 million in Ohio Department of Transportation safety funds, as well as more than $504,000 in additional funding through the WWW Interstate Planning Commission for the project.
Tucker said the engineering department had been working toward safety improvements to the intersection since 2009, and to date the city has spent more than $76,000 on the project for studies and preliminary designs.
He said if council OKs the work, the total cost would be an estimated $3.26 million, with almost $2.4 million of that coming from ODOT, and $504,000 from WWW. The local match would be $389,637.
Tucker noted the city could decide not to move ahead with the project, but paving, ADA curb ramps and crosswalk upgrades and other improvements, currently built into the proposed project cost, would have to be covered completely by the city.
And according to a recent letter from WWW to Mayor Joe Matthews, the city could be required to return $308,232 to the interstate planning commission if the project does not proceed.
At the end of Tuesday's meeting, Councilman Roger Kalter, D-1st Ward, asked for a week to consider the proposal and said he would like to present the project plans to his constituents who attend the annual Thanksgiving Day dinner at the Norwood United Methodist Church Thursday.
Streets and transportation committee chairman Denver Abicht, D-at large, agreed, and scheduled a meeting at 5 p.m. Nov. 29 for further consideration of the issue.
If council allows the project to proceed, Tucker said the proposed schedule would include authorization to proceed by Jan. 14. The contract would be awarded by December 2014, and construction would begin around the first of April 2015, with completion slated for mid November that year.