Residents of Liberty Township voiced concerns to trustees Monday in regard to a proposal by the Delaware County Engineer’s Office to open a connection between Manning Parkway and Loch Lomond Drive to alleviate traffic during the Liberty and Jewett roads roundabout project this summer.
Becca Mount, resident of Calumet Farms, said the end game of the county engineer has all along been to get the connection built.
“It is our greatest fear that it will get opened and then it will never shut,” she said. “Opening that connection is not a viable option. It won’t do anybody any good, because it will just open something that may never get closed.”
Mount said when she asked the county engineer’s office for its traffic study, she was surprised that she never received any of the numbers. She said originally, the thought was to open the road and designate it for emergency access only, but to open it for traffic relief “simply didn’t make good sense.”
Matt Huffman, township administrator, invited a member of the Delaware County Engineer’s Office to bring the township residents up to date on the Liberty Road and Jewett Road intersection roundabout project scheduled to begin this summer.
Doug Riedel, senior project engineer, said the engineer’s office anticipates closing the road around the last week of May or the first week in June. However, the time frame is contingent upon the weather and the utility companies getting their facilities moved.
“We’re crossing our fingers that they’re still on schedule,” he said. “Once we start, the contract is 75 days long, so that puts us right about the beginning of school opening. The second or third week of August.”
In February 2107, the engineer’s office held an open house to get feedback from residents on the construction of a $1.5 million single-lane roundabout. According to Rob Riley, chief deputy engineer, the county received $490,000 from the Ohio Public Works Commission to help fund the project.
Riley also said that traffic studies showed the volume of traffic to be “about 10,000 vehicles a day on Liberty Road and 4,500 on Jewett Road. Information detailed in a handout from the engineer’s office predicts that the the daily traffic will increase 60 percent by the year 2036 for the intersection.
Currently, the intersection is a three-way stop that becomes congested between the hours of 4 to 6 p.m. on weekdays.
According to Huffman, Jewett Road will close first, 30 days ahead of Liberty Road, for the first phase of the project. Once the phase is completed, both Jewett and Liberty roads will be closed for the remaining length of the project.
“Liberty will remain open for the first 30 days of the contract,” Reidel said. “Jewett will be closed for the entire period.”
Huffman said the Ohio Department of Transportation, City of Powell, and Liberty Township met to discuss access to Jewett Road from state Route 315.
The roundabout project will create access issues during peak traffic hours to and from the neighborhoods that reside between state Route 315, Jewett Road and the railroad tracks.
Reidel said one of the options included in the discussions is to pay an off duty officer to direct traffic during peak hours, but he also offered the second option of opening Manning Parkway.
“One of the options when the entities got together was the possibility of opening, temporarily, Manning Parkway between state Route 315 and Jewett Road to serve only the residents,” he said. “It would give them certainly a much safer and an easier option to access state Route 315 as opposed to going down Jewett to state Route 315.”
Reidel said the engineer’s office saw merit in the option but without data, could not definitively tell how much it would improve the traffic problem.
Trustee Shyra Eichhorn said she didn’t live in the area but did travel through there often and was concerned about the narrow widths of the roads.
“I’m nervous when I’m driving there because if anybody is walking on that road, walking their dog or kids playing, it becomes difficult to drive, especially when another car is coming your way,” she said. “If I were to support something like this, I would be trading in one safety issue for another safety issue.”
Eichhorn said that she is one of two trustees currently on the board that gave their word not to open Manning Parkway.
Liberty Township Trustees Curtis Sybert, Mary Carducci, and Melanie Leneghan approved a resolution Sept. 9, 2012, stating, “The Manning Parkway and Loch Lomond Drive connection is no longer required by the Township and that the DCEO (Delaware County Engineer’s Office) and DCRPC (Delaware County Regional Planning Committee) disregard any and all previous resolutions indicating any need for a connection and be it further resolved that the Board of Trustees requests and strongly recommends the DCEO vacate this (60 foot wide) road easement to prevent the issue of this connection in the future.”
“I would never be in favor of moving to open that road without definite closure after construction because we need traffic relief,” said Trustee Mike Gemperline.
Trustees didn’t take any action on the matter Monday, but tabled it until the next trustee meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, May 7, at the township hall, 7761 Liberty Road.
Trustee Melanie Leneghan was not present at the Monday meeting.
For further information about the project, go to delgazette.com and click on the links in the article.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.