ARCHIVE IMAGE THANKS TO RANDY FATH
If funding goes through and everything falls in to place, motorists, Amish travelers, bicyclists, residents and others may see some major changes over the next few years as they traverse Wayne County.
Proposals include a roundabout at State Route 585 in Green Township northeast of Smithville, buggy lanes along Kidron Road and charging stations in towns.
At the Feb. 22 Wayne County Commission meeting, commissioners voted unanimously to accept an amendment to a resolution regarding applying for RAISE grant funding for safety improvements for buggy and bike lanes in Wayne County.
The project cost of $24.8 million was updated to an estimated total of $24.9 million to be covered 100 percent by RAISE grant funding with the exception of $500,000 from the Amish Steering Committee Funding (increased from $400,000) and $100,000 from Wayne County Rails-to-Trails funding. This means no cost to the county.
Commissioners also approved to accept funding for a highway safety improvement plan for an intersection upgrade at State Route 585, Apple Creek Road (County Road 44) and Five Points Road (County Road 120.)
The resolution states the Wayne County Engineer submitted and received Highway Safety Improvement Project (HSIP) funding through the County Engineers Association of Ohio for the intersection improvement. The project was approved by commissioners last year. The project is approved at 80 percent HSIP funding to upgrade the intersection from a three-way stop condition to a single-lane roundabout with a total estimated cost of $1.3 million. For the remaining 20 percent of the estimated construction costs, ODOT will submit for HSIP funding for the estimated cost of $330,600, including engineering, environmental and right of way expenditures, which would fully fund the project.
Wayne County Engineer Scott Miller said the state Route 585 is owned and maintained by ODOT and the county owns Apple Creek and Five Points roads. Over the past five years there were 19 crashes at that intersection and motorists along those roads experience much congestion.
“We’ve gotten tons of complaints and concerns about that intersection for years,” Miller said.
In 2022, they had six accidents within that one year. Land owners in the area petitioned ODOT directly.
“It hit their radar and they wanted to do something about it,” he said.
Miller said ODOT is expected to apply for the additional funding this month and he expects construction underway by 2027. The proposed improvement is a five-leg roundabout.
“That’s a great spot for a roundabout,” Miller said. “The safety improvement from a roundabout is tremendous.”
The USDOT RAISE grant project is described as Ohio to Erie Trail and Amish travel improvements and has three main areas of improvements: trails, Amish buggy/bike lanes and spot safety improvements, and traditional and solar electric vehicle charging. The project includes proposing construction of 8-foot wide Amish buggy/bike lanes along Kidron Road from Emerson to State Route 241 in Holmes County.
This is a 5.75-mile stretch of road.
This project will also implement cost effective Amish safety improvements along rural roadways. Wayne County ranked highest in Ohio for buggy crashes from 2018-2022. Intersection conflict warning systems will be constructed at two intersections along Carr Road to alert oncoming motor-vehicle drivers that an Amish buggy is at the intersection, looking to cross the roadway. Amish buggy warning detection systems will be installed at crest vertical curves in three locations in the area. The warning detection systems alerts motor-vehicles that a buggy is on the other side of the hill. These improvements will be some of the first in the State used. Prevoius studies at these intersections show a high accident rate so the warning devices would be proposed resolutions.
“We’re hoping these improvements will cut down the accidents for the Amish communities,” Miller said.
The county is collaborating with Rails to Trails of Wayne County to develop bicycle facilities and trails to complete existing network gaps. In 2022, the County was awarded $1.1 million to replace the Bank Street Bridge in 2025. The project will widen the bridge to accommodate 5-foot-wide bike lanes. This RAISE Grant project will build on these improvements and develop bike lanes along the remainder of Bank Street linking the Village of Apple Creek to the regional trail network. The county is also administering the construction of 1.10 miles of trail along the Great American Rail-Trail north of Orrville.
The project would develop the southern section of the county’s trail network getting one step closer to a completely connected off-road trail system.
Four charging stations are proposed in communities and villages: Kidron, Apple Creek, Fredericksburg and Mt. Hope in Holmes County. The Amish community uses a variety of solar-powered transportation options: electric bikes, scooters, golf carts, and solar-powered buggy lights.
These proposals have been in the county’s comprehensive plan and are areas that have been studied. Now, with an opportunity to apply for grant money, Miller said the county may be able to complete these projects over the next few years to improve safety.
“We feel it’s a really strong project and we’re hoping those that review the projects will think the same,” Miller said.
Wayne County Commission meets at 9 a.m. every Wednesday.