MARIETTA - 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.
He said short-term solutions, including upgraded traffic signalization and a prohibited left turn off of south Sixth Street onto Ohio 7, had probably resulted in 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.
Streets and transportation committee chairman Denver Abicht, D-at large, scheduled a meeting at 5 p.m. Nov. 29 for further consideration of the issue.
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 be provided for southbound traffic on Ohio 7 to turn onto south Seventh Street. A pedestrian island would 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 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 in that area.
Tucker said that alternative would be the city engineering department's recommendation for the intersection improvement project.
But 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.
Councilman Harley Noland, D-at at large, said 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.
Grathwol said the proposed upgrades would improve the traffic capacity through the intersection, which would help reduce the number of accidents.
Tucker 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 funding through the WWW Interstate Planning Commission for the project.
Tucker 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.
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.