The City of Delaware hosted a public involvement session on Thursday to discuss changes that will be coming to the volatile intersection at U.S. Route 23 and Hull Drive. Deputy City Engineer Matt Weber gave a presentation of the proposed changes to the intersection, after which the public was encouraged to give their thoughts on the proposal.
In November 2020, Delaware City Council passed a resolution to approve a local public agency agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) that would bring a safety improvement project to the problematic intersection. The city was awarded $207,000 in funding from the ODOT Safety Program to be spent on modifications.
Currently, the intersection has no traffic signal and is full-movement, meaning all turns are legal. During Thursday’s session, Weber said that, to his knowledge, the intersection at U.S. Route 23 and Hull Drive is the only intersection in the southern corridor that permits full movement without the aid of a traffic signal.
Speaking to the identified needs that have led to the city looking to modify the intersection, Weber said motorists looking to make a left turn from Hull Drive onto U.S. Route 23 currently experience lengthy delays. Most concerning, however, is the number of accidents that have occurred at the intersection, which Weber said is often a result of those motorists growing impatient with the wait to turn.
“Human nature is when you’re delayed at an intersection, you get impatient, and impatience breeds crashes a lot of times,” Weber said.
Of those documented accidents at the intersection, 80% involved motorists who failed to yield to traffic traveling on U.S. Route 23. One fatality has occurred in crashes at the intersection, and 30% of the accidents have resulted in injuries. In total, 15 crashes were documented in a three-year period from 2017-19.
After conducting a safety study, which included counting traffic and analyzing accident reports at the location, the city began to develop potential solutions for the intersection. Those solutions included limiting left turns from Hull Drive with signs only, installing a traffic signal, closing the median and converting it to a right-in/right-out (RIRO) operation, modifying the median and converting it to a left-in/right-out (LIRO) operation, or simply doing nothing.
Weber said signage likely wouldn’t have been effective because motorists often ignore them, which would still lead to crashes. The idea of installing a traffic signal was “quickly dismissed,” Weber said, due to the state’s code that dictates where signals can be installed based on traffic volume, a threshold Hull Drive does not meet.
As for moving the intersection to RIRO, Weber said such a move would “effectively eliminate the crash pattern,” but it would also eliminate left turns onto Hull Drive from U.S. Route 23, which have not been problematic through the years and make the local business in the area more accessible.
Ultimately, the recommended solution is to modify the intersection to still permit left turns from U.S. Route 23, while only allowing right turns from Hull Drive. To accomplish the restrictions, a physical barrier — likely made of concrete — would be constructed in the intersection. With the changes, Weber said the total number of “conflict points,” or potential accident points, at the intersection would be reduced from 28 to 14 points.
Based on the city’s analysis, Weber said it is expected that Hull Drive traffic that would normally be turning left to travel north on U.S. Route 23 would travel up Liberty Road and use Belle Avenue to get to U.S. Route 23. In total, Weber predicted around 30 cars per hour would be “inconvenienced” and have to find an alternative to getting onto U.S. Route 23, whether that be through Belle Avenue or by using the signal in the Delaware Center plaza.
During the time for public comments, Delaware resident Bill O’Sullivan, who lives on Hull Drive, said he felt the modifications would also reduce the amount of traffic that currently uses Hull Drive as a connector between Liberty Road and U.S. Route 23.
Comments on the proposed project will continue to be accepted for the next 30 days at which time a summary report of the discussions will be constructed and sent to all who have participated in the conversations. All materials presented in Thursday’s meeting, including the safety study, can be found under the Access Delaware tab on the city’s website. Comments can be left on the website or emailed to Weber at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moving forward, the city’s plan is to complete the design of the project at some point this year before sending the project out to bid. Construction on the project is expected to begin in August of 2o22, with completion reached by that November.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.