GREENVILLE — Representatives from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) were in Greenville Tuesday to discuss various plans for a nearby intersection many locals have deemed dangerous.
The public meeting, held at St. Clair Memorial Hall, was to allow ODOT to display the options on the table for improving the intersection at Kruckeberg Road and U.S. Route 127, to the east of Greenville. The ODOT reps — Senior Design Engineer Scott Knebel, Project Manager Mary Hoy, and Environmental Coordinator Tricia Bishop — also sought public feedback on the options or to have citizens offer alternative ideas.
In studying improvement for the intersection, ODOT has worked in consultation with the Darke County Engineer’s Office and the City of Greenville.
There have been 45 vehicle wrecks at the intersection from 2011 to 2015, including two fatalities. However, a more recent fatality has driven many to press for improvements at the juncture.
On Aug. 2, 2016, a 16-year-old Greenville teen, Elias Burr, was killed at the intersection after attempting to drive west across 127 on Kruckeberg Road. His car was struck by a northbound pickup truck. In addition to Burr’s death, five people were treated for injuries.
At the meeting, ODOT presented six proposals it has formulated for the intersection.
- Do nothing at the intersection;
- Close Kruckeberg at U.S. 127 with no other improvements;
- Install a median on U.S. 127 at Kruckeberg, to prevent the through movement on Kruckeberg and left-turn movements on all approaches;
- Constructing a Partial Restricted Crossing U-Turn (Partial RCUT);
- Constructing a Restricted Crossing U-Turn (RCUT);
- And closing Kruckeberg and constructing a “diamond” interchange at U.S. 127 and State Route 121.
Other than the “do nothing” option, each plan will require funding. Of the three most intricate proposals, ODOT estimates costs ranging from $500,000 (for the RCUT plan) to $4.5 million to construct the diamond interchange. The Partial RCUT plan would cost approximately $800,000. The earliest estimate for construction to begin will likely not start until 2020.
ODOT is hoping to move quickly in order to gain funding for the project by this April. If not, project funding would have to wait until September.
A number of citizens stood and spoke their minds regarding the plans presented.
Among them was Richard Edwards, who owns an auction business on Kruckeberg Road.
“We get a lot of traffic that comes to my auctions, but for many years now, I’ve seen traffic getting heavier and heavier going on 127,” Edwards said. “And I’ve known three people that have had crashes there, two were fatalities, and one was my brother who didn’t die, but got hit there.”
“What I’m trying to say is…is it going to affect my business and affect the buyers coming to the auctions? Yes, it probably will. But do you know how much time it takes? Sixty seconds.”
“I say close it. I don’t care. My buyers will get there if it takes them 30 seconds or 60 seconds or two minutes. They’ll still get there, but they’ll get there safely,” he said.
Opinions on the plans presented varied, but the general consensus among those who spoke was that some improvement at the intersection needs to be made, and made quickly.
Stacy Peters of Greenville was at the meeting. Peters and her husband, Jesse, were friends of Burr’s, and decided to create a petition asking the state to close the intersection. To date, more than 1,700 people have signed the online petition.
When asked if she thought progress had been made, Peters said, “I’ve been really pleased with the interaction we’ve had with the county and the state. They’re listening.”
However, Peters is hoping that action is taken sooner than later.
“I think 2020 is way too far out,” she said. “We need to move more quickly than that if we really want to protect the people in our community.”
Of the ODOT proposals, Peters said she thinks the Partial RCUT plan is the best option.
“I understand the concerns about the U-turns, but I think those of us that drive in the area, we probably won’t make those U-turns,” she said. “If we’re coming out of town, we’ll take 121 from the north and we’ll work our way around that and not have to use the U-turn function. I’ve seen them work it successfully in Michigan.”
ODOT is accepting public comments by mail (ODOT District 7, 1001 St. Mary’s Avenue, Sidney, OH 45365) or by email or telephone. Comments must be submitted by February 24, 2017. For more information or to make their thoughts known, citizens may contact ODOT Project Manager Mary Hoy by phone at 937-497-6838, or email [email protected], or contact ODOT Environmental Coordinator Tricia Bishop by phone at 937-497-6721, or email [email protected].