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Roundabout construction begins April 5

Phase 1 is not expected to impact commencement or move out
Mar 30, 2010
By Bridget Coughlin

On Monday, April 5, the city of Athens will begin construction on a roundabout at the intersection of Richland Ave. and SR 682.

Jessica Adine, city project manager, cites a population increase in the 1990s and high crash rates as the city's reasons for constructing the roundabout.

"In 2000, the City Council initiated planning for improvements at this intersection," Adine said. 

In 2003 the Ohio Department of Transportation found that the intersection was the 78th highest crash location in the state of Ohio on the Ohio Enhanced Crash Location Identification System.

According to Adine, an intersection safety study conducted by ODOT and completed in 2005 identified the need for safety improvements to this intersection as well as to the Richland Bridge, which has been deteriorating and found to be structurally deficient. 

"This project will improve the unsafe intersection and the bridge," she said.

Andy Stone, city engineer and director of public works, said that the biggest misconception about roundabouts that he has encountered is that people often equate modern roundabouts with the older traffic circles found in the northeast United States and Washington, D.C.

"The only similarity is their shape," Stone said. "Modern roundabouts do not include signals.  Drivers maintain their lane throughout circulation and yield to circulating traffic; it is very intuitive."
According to Adine, roundabouts improve intersection safety. She said Athens should expect benefits in the form of decreased crashes and a new multi-use tunnel for pedestrians and cyclists, as an alternative to crossing the intersection. 

During the first week of the project, the contractor will place temporary traffic control, install a temporary signal at the intersection, remove the median barrier along SR 682, and remove the concrete island at the southeast corner of the intersection. Adine said that the entire first phase of the project should be complete before Ohio University's mid-June commencement ceremonies.

"Phase 1 is expected to begin on April 12, with the bridge work scheduled between April 14 and June 3," Adine said. "The contractor has a very tight schedule -- they expect to be completing phase 1 on June 10 or June 11."

Finishing this phase on time will be important to lessen the project's impact on graduation and move out. Adine said the phases of the construction were scheduled to minimize the impact to Ohio University events. Project managers will evaluate the traffic control restrictions as commencement approaches and revise the plan as necessary.

"The biggest impact will probably be during precollege events, which occur during phase 2 of the project, scheduled between June 14 and July 8," Adine said. "This phase is the most restrictive for traffic."

The contractor, Shelly & Sands from Zanesville, has a schedule with a tentative completion date of Aug. 28.

To stay safe during construction, Adine suggests that students and staff be aware of the barricaded areas where construction is active. Automobiles traveling through the construction zone should travel at the advised speed limit and obey all other traffic control devices.

"Pedestrian and cyclist traffic will be maintained throughout the project, and, like the traffic control for automobiles, the plan may change though the phases of the project," Adine said. "The most important point for anyone traveling through the project area is to be aware of the detours and follow the traffic control devices."

Adine also recommends that citizens watch the roundabout informational public service announcement*, which provides information about the project and presents safe driving trips from Stone as well as Captain Tom Pyle of the Athens Police Department. 


*Following these links will take you away from the Ohio University Web site.


Published: Mar 30, 2010 4:31 PM


Illustration of the proposed Richland/Ohio 682 roundabout. Click here to see a larger version open in a new window.

Illustration by: Mark Krumel 

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