Engineers: Roundabout best, safest option at new Franklin High School, Community Park

After months of discussion, it has been decided that a roundabout would be the best and safest option for the entrance to the new Franklin High School off of Ohio 123/East Sixth Street.

In late May, the Franklin Board of Education said if its traffic engineer agrees with the city’s traffic engineer that a roundabout would be in the best of interest of Franklin students and residents, it would provide a $325,000 contribution toward the project.

City officials have estimated the roundabout to cost between $1.8 million to $2.2 million.

On Monday, Rodney Roberts, Franklin schools business manager, said the district received a report from The Kleingers Group of West Chester Twp. that concurred with the city’s traffic engineer, CT Consultants.

“The school district’s engineer came to the same conclusion that speed is reduced with a roundabout,” Roberts said.

The city and the school district had engineers do traffic studies as part of the project to build a new high school and renovate the current one into a junior high.

The new roundabout will connect Ohio 123/East Sixth Street with aligned driveways into the new high school and Franklin Community Park.

As part of that, the traffic study examined whether to stay with the already approved four-way traffic signal at the Sixth Street intersection at the high school or switch to a roundabout.

Franklin City Engineer Barry Conway said the cost for the four-way signalized intersection was $827,346. The city already has been awarded a federal grant of $530,881 and would be responsible for the $296,465 in local costs.

City consultants said the Ohio Department of Transportation has reported roundabouts have led to a 44% reduction in traffic crashes and between 72% and 87% reduction in fatal crashes.

Jay Korros, senior traffic engineer with CT Consultants, told council members that the roundabout would be a safer configuration that slows traffic and allows pedestrians to cross. He also said the roundabout would be wide enough for semi trucks, which accounts for about 6 percent of the traffic.

Korros said the roundabout will be designed and will factor traffic volume projections through 2043.

He also said that the traffic signals on East Sixth Street at Riley Boulevard, Anderson Street, and Sunnybrook Drive could be programmed to prevent traffic back-ups.

“They are natural traffic calming devices,” he said.

Korros said the crosswalk at Sunnybrook Drive will be upgraded to include rectangular rapid flashing pedestrian signs. He said 95 percent of drivers respond to these signals.

City Manager Jonathan Westendorf said the city staff and police recommended the roundabout option. He said the roundabout would be completed in 2024 and the new high school is projected to be completed in 2023.

Councilman Michael Aldridge said that roundabouts are for continuous traffic and was concerned about students stopped on the traffic islands and an increase of glancing accidents.

“I want to like this,” Aldridge said. “Aesthetically, it looks good and it’s progressive. Initially I was concerned about the costs. Now I’m just concerned with pedestrian crashes.”

Councilman Denny Centers said, “People will have to get used to it. It’s a progressive thing.”

After council’s input, Mayor Brent Centers directed Westendorf to proceed with the roundabout option.

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