XENIA — The City of Xenia is planning a major project to enhance the North Columbus-East Church intersection.
If approved by city council, a single-lane roundabout would be constructed, eliminating the stop lights and improving the flow of traffic and safety at the awkwardly shaped intersection according to city officials. While most streets meet at 90 degrees in all directions, this intersection has U.S. 42 touching East Church on a 42 degree skew, according to City Engineer Chris Berger.
All left turns would be eliminated, creating a more continuous flow of traffic. The change will also help better accommodate traffic volume, which is expected to be nearly 6,000 per day on the north leg of North Columbus Street.
“This project has been on the MVRPC’s (Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission) long-range transportation plan,” Berger said, adding that there is enough traffic to warrant the work.
“More important is the safety element to it,” Berger said. “It’s eliminating that skew out of that intersection. There’s all kinds of traffic studies that have been done on roundabouts.”
The project is estimated to cost $1.1 million. The city received a surface transportation grant that will cover more than $800,000 of the cost, while the rest would come from the general capital fund, if the expenditure is approved. Council voted 7-0 in September 2013 to authorize the grant application.
Construction is slated to begin summer 2019 and be completed by summer 2020. The city will have to acquire right-of-way from approximately 23 parcels according to documents, however Berger said nobody will have to sell their homes.
The original plan called for U.S. 42 to be re-routed to meet the intersection at the aforementioned 90-degree angle, but that would have required the city to buy five or six houses, Berger said. The city’s consultant suggested the change to a roundabout.
“We won’t have to buy whole properties,” Berger said.
To help explain the project and allow citizens to ask questions, the city and the Ohio Department of Transportation will hold an open house 4-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22 at the Xenia Library. When the city announced the open house on its website, many comments on social media followed, saying that roundabouts are difficult to maneuver and that it’s not needed in that area.
“I certainly get why people may feel confused,” Berger said. “You (just) have to remember one thing. You yield to your left. Once you get in, you have right of way.”
Berger added that this project will in no way put fixing city streets on the back burner.
“Just because we’re doing this project doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten about the condition of the streets,” Berger said. “Our city manager has made this his No. 1 priority.”
Berger said he and his staff will work with city council to formulate a comprehensive plan for fixing the streets.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.