A vision of what the world would be like if SR 66 was shifted to go around Archbold was released to the public Nov. 15.
The village of Archbold hosted an open house about the proposed shift at Northwest State Community College. The purpose of the meeting was to update the public on the upcoming feasibility study, the work that has been done, review existing conditions and seek feedback.
Village officials were in attendance as people milled about the auditorium to view the various displays and seek information. The open house sought to share and receive information and attendees were given an opportunity to share their concerns and comments before leaving.
The village, in coordination with Fulton and Henry counties, is preparing a feasibility study on relocation SR 66 from downtown Archbold to the west to CR 24 and extend SR 2 north of Archbold onto CR E.
The purpose of the shift is to move the bulk of the truck traffic out of downtown Archbold to the west where most of the community’s industrial base is. By doing so, state and local officials are hopeful traffic congestion and accidents will be significantly reduced.
Another goal with the shift is to have a direct route to and from the Ohio Turnpike on SR 66 for truck traffic. The road will remain at two lanes, but would be widened to state standards of 12 feet with 8 feet of shoulder (4 feet paved, 4 feet graded).
A series of displays showing the options for the shifted routes and placards with various graphs about the impact of the shifts on traffic and wait times at different intersections. Aerial maps showed what the routes would look like with signaled intersections or roundabouts.
There were several options presented:
Alternative 1 – CR 24 corridor improvements with roundabouts.
Alternative 2 – CR 24 corridor improvements with signalized intersections.
Alternative A – Grade separation at the Norfolk Southern Railroad – underpass.
Alternative B – Grade separation at the Norfolk Southern Railroad – overpass with concrete beams.
Alternative C – Grade separation at the Norfolk Southern Railroad – overpass with steel beams.
Alternative D – Grade separation at the Norfolk Southern Railroad – bypass alignment overpass.
The team doing the feasibility study is taking public comments until Dec. 15. The feasibility study will be finalized over the winters.
A preliminary design and environmental study will be accomplished in 2017.
A public meeting on Stage 1 design and preliminary right of way will be held next spring or summer. Funding for a detailed design and right of way acquisition will be secured then as well.
Detailed design will be completed in 2018 and right of way acquisition will be achieved by 2019.
Pending funding, construction could begin in 2019 or 2020.
An environmental study is among the next steps, but much of the work associated with a project like the proposed shift has already been done (bridges, culverts) so any work that may have to be done is impacts around storage tanks.
“We are just making a bridge wider, better or newer,” consultant Brian Metz said.
Traffic counts show shifting SR 66 away from downtown will reduce overall traffic flow. Truck traffic would account for 8 percent of the total traffic on the new route, Traffic Engineer Laurie Adams, principal at DGF Consulting said.
“Other than deliveries, I would assume most of the truck traffic would move to the new route,” xxx Adams said.
The new route would also make downtown Archbold safer to drive, Adams said. From 2013-15 there were 95 crashes in downtown Archbold and 161 overall. While recent improvements to some intersections have severely reduced the number of accidents, there are still some tight corners where trucks can brush up against buildings, other trucks or cars that try to skirt around them while turning.
“The intersections have been improved, but it’s still not ideal,” Adams said. On the new route “we can make the turning radius as wide as needed.”
One of the proposals for a shift of SR 66 to CR 24 west of Archbold is to replace stop signs and construct roundabouts. Roundabouts are being constructed in many places around the nation as a safer and cheaper alternative to traditional signalized intersections.
Instead of traffic flow being controlled by a signal, vehicles move at a slower speed around a center island. While confusing for some at first, most drivers pick up the knack quickly.
“The safety factor of a roundabout is so much greater,” Adams said. “Because of those low speeds.”
At the Nov. 15, open house a display touted the benefits having roundabouts:
-76 percent reduction in injury accidents
-90 percent reduction in fatal accidents
-35 percent reduction in overall accidents
-Low life cycle costs versus signals
-Pedestrian safety and mobility
James Pruitt may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org