STEUBENVILLE - State and local officials plan to alter the flow of traffic on state Route 7, University Boulevard and the Veterans Memorial Bridge in an effort to reduce congestion and address safety concerns.
Officials with the Ohio Department of Transportation were at Garfield East Elementary School Wednesday to share information about the project. ODOT also is accepting comments at Ohio Department of Transportation, District 11, Attn: Tim Stillion, 2201 Reiser Ave. SE, New Philadelpia, OH 44663, or Tim.Stillion@dot.state.oh.us.
After several years of planning and discussion, ODOT has announced plans to replace the short turn lane for vehicles turning left from state Route 7 onto University Boulevard with two turn lanes that would extend from an area just north of the school.
SHARING INFORMATION — Kevin Grathwol, an engineer with the W.E. Stillson Consulting Group, discussed plans to alter the intersection of state Route 7 and University Boulevard with Mark and Gretchen Nelson of Steubenville at an informational meeting held by the Ohio Department of Transportation Wednesday at Garfield East Elementary School. -- Warren Scott
New traffic signals would be installed to allow vehicles to cross Route 7's southbound lanes onto the new lanes.
The lanes would continue under the Norfolk-Southern Railroad Bridge and through the Brettell property at the southwest corner of the intersection and onto University Boulevard, where drivers could enter a short on-ramp to the Veterans Memorial Bridge.
Instead of yielding, as drivers entering the bridge from the boulevard's right lane do now, they would proceed or stop at a traffic signal there.
The light would be timed to coincide with the signal for vehicles turning onto the span from the eastbound left turn lane of University Boulevard.
A green arrow light would indicate to the eastbound drivers when they may turn.
Plans also call for Labelle Avenue, the access road for the Steubenville Marina to be extended, so it would run parallel to Route 7 and to the intersection where the new turn lanes begin.
The measures are intended to address the occurrence of vehicles being backed from Route 7's short left turn lane into the highway's center northbound lane in peak traffic periods and vehicles turning onto the marina access road being backed into the right northbound lane while waiting for a train to pass.
The scenario was among more than 30 explored by the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission, with input from ODOT, and the one recommended by the W.E. Stillson Engineering Group of Columbus from 17 the engineering firm was hired by ODOT to study.
At least one drawback to the proposal is its cost. At an estimated $9.1 million, it's the most expensive of the various scenarios.
Kevin Grathwol, transportation department manager for W.E. Stillson, said, "It is the most expensive but it's also the most effective."
Mayor Domenick Mucci agreed, saying, "This is the one I preferred. I think it's the logical approach. It helps the flow of traffic on Route 7 and the ingress and egress of traffic on University Boulevard."
He added the project is largely funded, with ODOT committing $7.5 million in federal and state funds for it. He said BHJ has agreed to pursue the additional funds needed.
Mike Paprocki, transportation study director for BHJ, said the planning commission may allocate its own funds for the project at the discretion of its members.
Paprocki said congestion and safety issues were primary motives.
"We had a large number of fatalities in a small number of years," Paprocki said. He said changes in the timing of traffic signals at the intersection have helped to greatly reduce that number until more could be done.