Hamilton hopes to add acceleration lane from Hampshire Drive to westbound Ohio 129

Hamilton officials hope in coming years to build an accelerator lane from Hampshire Drive to westbound 129 at the eastern edge of Hamilton, to reduce crashes. PROVIDED
Hamilton officials hope in coming years to build an accelerator lane from Hampshire Drive to westbound 129 at the eastern edge of Hamilton, to reduce crashes. PROVIDED

Improvements may happen in 2025 or later

Hamilton is applying for state safety funding for money to add an acceleration lane along westbound Ohio 129 from Hampshire Drive to reduce crashes there.

If the city wins the $1.5 million it is seeking from the Ohio Department of Transportation, the improvements could be made in 2025, Rich Engle, the city’s director of engineering, recently told Hamilton City Council.

The city wants to change the southbound Hampshire Drive to westbound High Street “into a dedicated entry lane” similar to a ramp onto an interstate highway, but straight, so motorists traveling from Hampshire can turn right and reach speeds similar to that of traffic on High/Ohio 129, Engle said.

“It’s going to be 300 or 400 feet long,” Engle said. “It’ll be a rather lengthy merge lane.”

That’s needed because the speed limit on Ohio 129 there is 50 mph, he said. A bit west of the intersection, the speed limit drops to 35 mph.

The improvements are meant to cut the number of crashes involving westbound vehicles on Ohio 129 hitting slower vehicles that have turned onto the highway from Hampshire. From 2016 through 2019, the latest data available, there were eight such crashes, all on weekdays, seven of them in daylight, and one that caused an injury.

There also will be a continuous right-turn lane from southbound Hampshire onto westbound High Street, Engle said.

The plan also is to lengthen the left-turn lane that eastbound Ohio 129 traffic uses to drive onto Hampshire, Engle said.

The intersection looks to increasingly be a key one in the city with the construction of the indoor sports complex and convention center at Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill. Because of that project, which is expected to attract 10,000 or more athletes and their families on many weekends, Hamilton is working to create a northern bypass around the city as well as over the Great Miami River and CSX railroad tracks.

That project is known as North Hamilton Crossing, and is expected to be at least 5-7 years from becoming reality. One likely end location of the North Hamilton Crossing is Hampshire and Ohio 129.

ExploreHamilton seeks input on proposed North Hamilton Crossing. What do you think?

In another effort to reduce crashes, the city recently changed the traffic light setting at the intersection. Eastbound traffic on Ohio 129 used to be able to turn left onto Hampshire at times when the light was green. Now, eastbound drivers see a red light that prevents them from turning left onto Hampshire much of the time. That sometimes leads to longer lines of vehicles waiting to make that turn.

There were 13 wrecks involving eastbound Ohio 129 vehicles turning left onto Hampshire from 2016 through 2019, and those injured 10 people.

The 50 mph in that area is “quite a speed,” Mayor Pat Moeller observed.

For eastbound vehicles on Ohio 129 driving through the intersection there were 23 rear-end wrecks from 2016 through 2019, and those caused eight injuries. Some 17 of those wrecks happened in 2018 and 2019, with 19 of the 23 crashes happening in dry conditions.

Engle said ODOT is looking at improving signs about the speed limit in the area they control, east of Hamilton’s city limits.

ExploreEvery Spooky Nook weekend from April to August 2022 now booked: The latest on the project