You may know them from travels in other parts of the state or country.
Roundabouts are definitely increasing in number as transportation planners seek new options for moving large numbers of people safely. Recently, the Ohio Department of Transportation has been doing just that.
Some of the latest roundabouts are located on State Route 309, the east-west thoroughfare known as US30 South for much of the last half of the 20th century. As 309 heads west from Galion toward Lima, these new traffic devices have proven successful.
One year after the inauguration of the State Route 309 roundabouts at Napoleon Road and Thayer Road, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) District 1 is celebrating a significant reduction in traffic accidents and injuries. The project, aimed at enhancing road safety, has been declared a resounding success by ODOT officials. “These roundabouts are most certainly saving lives,” said Chris Hughes, ODOT District 1 Deputy Director.
By the Numbers: A Drastic Drop in Accidents
Between January 2019 and May 2022, the State Route 309/Thayer Road intersection witnessed 29 crashes, including one fatal and 16 injury crashes. However, since the roundabouts opened in August 2022, the area has seen only four crashes, resulting in one minor injury and three incidents involving property damage. The injury rate plummeted from 58.6% to a mere 25%, showcasing the effectiveness of the new road design.
Local community leaders have also noticed the positive change. Pastor Brian Robertson of Crossroads Church of God, located on the southeast corner of the Thayer Road roundabout, mentioned, “We have certainly noticed a decrease in accidents.” Mel Rentschler, superintendent of Allen East Local Schools, echoed the sentiment, stating, “The roundabout makes the intersection 100% safer for the students and everyone in the community.”
Behind the Success
The roundabouts were funded through Ohio’s Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), which expanded in 2019 under Governor DeWine. The program has become one of the largest traffic safety initiatives in the country, targeting 150 intersections, including the ones at State Route 309. The project recently received a 2022 award for Excellence in Highway Design from ODOT/American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC). The design consultant for the roundabouts was Jacobs Engineering Group, Cincinnati.
The Bigger Picture: Roundabouts and Road Safety
According to Federal Highway Administration statistics, converting a two-way, stop-controlled intersection to a single-lane roundabout can result in a 40% reduction in total crashes, a 75% reduction in injury crashes, and a 90% reduction in fatal crashes. For more information, you can visit ODOT’s resources on roundabouts at transportation.ohio.gov/roundabouts.
Photo: DALL-E 3