Fairfield officials want to fix the traffic bottleneck along southern Ohio 4 but need an Ohio Department of Transportation safety grant to do the multi-million-dollar project.
Public Works Director Ben Mann said ODOT is now reviewing the city’s application to widen Ohio 4 at Seward Road and should find out this fall if Fairfield will receive 90% of the $3.3 million project.
“It will depend on how well we score and funding availability,” Mann said on the selection process.
The city applied in 2021 for the grant, but was denied likely because right-of-way acquisition costs were too high, Mann said. However, the city may have addressed that issue when it purchased the former Head Shed Salon at the corner of Ohio 4 and Seward.
By owning the former salon property, the Seward Road/Ohio 4 widening project will now require less right-of-way to purchase.
The widening project is designed to make the intersection more efficient and safer by removing the bottleneck, which is due the lane configuration coming from westbound Seward Road onto Ohio 4. There is a dual left turn lane for traffic turning onto southbound Ohio 4. The center left-turn lane is also a thru lane which prevents eastbound and westbound Seward Road traffic from moving simultaneously onto Ohio 4.
“Because of the current lane configuration, we have that split (traffic light) phase where the one side of Seward goes and then the other side,” Mann said. “We want to get a dedicated double left so it will behave like a normal intersection. Right now, that intersection is the bottleneck in how we time Route 4.”
In addition to widening the Seward to accommodate dedicated lanes, Mann said work on Ohio 4 includes lengthening the southbound right turn lane onto Seward Road and access management of existing drive openings.
This intersection has been determined a top priority by city leaders because of the high number of accidents that have resulted in injuries.
Of the 50 accidents between 2019 and 2021, 28% resulted in an injury, according to ODOT crash reports.
Overall during that three-year span, accidents with and without injuries included sideswipe, rear-end, angled, and turning crashes. Most of the crashes that occurred were during the day and on dry pavement.
The widening is also needed because of the lack of proper truck turning radiuses from Ohio 4 onto Seward Road, which the removal of the Head Shed will help address.
“There are obviously a lot of trucks already, and more trucks are coming with all the new development on Seward Road,” Mann said.
The latest and largest development on Seward Road is the Fairfield Commerce Park, with five industrial buildings, four of which are new speculative structures. Three of the five buildings are leased at Fairfield Commerce Park as of Tuesday, and a fourth building is partially leased.
The business park began leasing space in 2021, about a year after the developer broke ground on the site.
While the widening project is dependent on ODOT’s funding approval, the Ohio 4/Seward Road intersection will be the start of a near-2-mile-long repaving project that ends right before the eastbound Interstate 275 off-ramp in Springdale. The repaving project will happen in 2023, and Springdale will reimburse the city for its portion.