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Fairfield to fix dangerous intersection

$1.6M project will realign Michael Lane and Camelot Drive with Ohio 4 in Fairfield.

Motorists who drive through the Michael Lane/Camelot Drive intersection on Ohio 4 will eventually have a safer, and quicker, experience once the $1.6 million fix is complete.

And while the end product won’t be a perfect 90 degrees at all four corners, the lanes on Michael Lane and Camelot Drive will be a directly across from each other and all potentials for accidents — such as unprotected left turns — should be removed, said Fairfield City Engineer Ben Mann.

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The intersection is offset by 40 feet, which is enough to cause significant backups on Ohio 4 and nearly four dozen accidents from 2014 to 2016 because unprotected left-hand turns and motorists do not recognize when to yield. Twenty-two of those 47 accidents resulted in injuries, according to Fairfield police. Mann said that’s a high number of injuries considering most were rear-end accidents.

The plan is to align the streets where some right-of-way will be acquired from the four properties at the intersection so Michael Lane and Camelot Drive will be directly across from each other.

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“So instead of shifting it all the way up and taking all of (the land) from one property owner, or shifting it all the way down, we’ll be taking a little bit of right-of-way from everyone,” Mann said.

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But until then, the fix to prevent more accidents is to slow traffic going through the intersection.

“What we’ve done now, on (Michael and Camelot), we have the lefts go first then we have the straights go, so we’ve got an extra phase in the signal,” said Mann. “Of course that slows down Route 4 because we have that extra phase-in there.”

Because of the skewed intersection, motorists on Ohio 4 turning left cannot go at the same time with dedicated arrows — which are seen at many intersections around the city — because “you’d be encouraging them to occupy the same space, and probably increase accidents that way,” Mann said.

Nearly 45,000 vehicles a day pass through this intersection, which is adjacent to Jungle Jim’s International Market, and provides access to the newly opened Planet Fitness. There are also dozens of other businesses either on the Jungle Jim property or near that intersection.

Preliminary engineering for the Michael Lane/Camelot Drive intersection on Ohio 4 is expected to happen in Ohio Fiscal Year 2019 — which is from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019 — and the detailed design of the realigned intersection should happen sometime in the first half 2019, Mann said.

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The city will acquire right-of-way property in Ohio Fiscal Year 2020 and construction is set to start in Ohio Fiscal Year 2022.

Fairfield will only pay 10 percent ($228,000) of the $1.6 million price tag because the Ohio Department of Transportation awarded the city a Highway Safety Improvement grant.

The city cannot proceed without ODOT authorization, according to a letter from Brianne Hetzel, assistant traffic studies engineer with ODOT District 8. The city was awarded the grant on April 12, but Hetzel said the city cannot proceed with the project development “until you are given formal authorization to proceed” and any expenditures incurred without a separate authorization are not reimbursable.

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