Roundabouts not popular with Liberty Twp. residents

Some Liberty Township residents voiced their displeasure concerning a proposal to build a roundabout at the junction of State Route 315 and Jewett Road.

Township Administrator Matt Huffman told the trustees at Tuesday’s meeting that he recently received an email from the Delaware County Engineer’s office which said the county is considering a joint project with the Ohio Department of Transportation to place a roundabout at the intersection.

“What the county asked is if we would be interested in exploring that,” Huffman said. “By doing that, with the eventual construction of it, they would be asking the township to contribute a portion of the cost. That portion would be roughly $50,000.”

The SR 315-Jewett Road intersection closely borders the Olentangy River on the east side and residential properties to the west.

Township resident Bryan Newell, a project manager and senior planner for engineering firm Gannett Fleming, told the trustees that he believes there are “several constraints — actually a lot of constraints — to putting a roundabout in there.”

“Functionally, we all know the queue from the light at (State Route) 750 backs up past (the SR 315-Jewett intersection), so it’s going to block the roundabout, and that would not work,” said Newell, noting that he “designs (roundabouts) for a living” in his role with Gannett Fleming. “That’s one of the things along with the environmental concerns and the fact that you’d lose … a large chunk of the property on the corner because the roundabout would be 150 feet across, or more, which is five times wider than the road is now there.”

Newell’s opinion is that “the simpler solution” would be to “put in a traffic light and turn lanes.”

“If ODOT was doing the study, it would get a fair shake, either way, but the county seems to favor roundabouts over traffic lights right now, so you gotta be careful what you ask for,” Newell said.

Trustee Melanie Leneghan explained that the township has no “authority over these things.”

“We can tell the engineer that we don’t think it’s a good idea, but at the end of the day, if he wants to put it in, he will,” she said. “Orange Road and (State Route) 315, they put in a roundabout. We had no authority to tell them not to.”

Township resident Becca Mount noted that despite the engineer having the final word on projects, the trustees and general public should speak out on the issue.

“I’ve seen trustees put pressure on the county engineer when his mind is made up,” Mount said. “I’ve seen them do it and I’ve seen the results that the residents want. … You can rally the troops to say, ‘This isn’t what our residents want.’”

Huffman said he would invite a representative from the county engineer’s office to attend a trustees’ meeting to discuss the issue.

Meanwhile, the bid process for another roundabout project at the opposite end of Jewett Road is coming to a close. According to the Delaware County Engineer’s website, the bid opening for the proposed roundabout at the intersection of Liberty and Jewett roads is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19. The estimated total cost of the single-lane roundabout is $1.5 million, which includes engineering, land acquisition, and construction.

By Andrew Carter

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Contact Andrew Carter at 740-413-0900. Follow him on Twitter @DelOhioEditor.