Traffic signals throughout Butler County to get $1M in technology upgrades

Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens is spending nearly $1 million to upgrade 45 traffic signals in high traffic areas with several smart technology features for safer pedestrian and driver travel.

Wilkens plans to spend an estimated $995,683 to upgrade traffic signals — $686,314 of the funding is coming from the federal government — along major roadways such as Cincinnati Dayton and Tylersville roads and Union Centre Boulevard in Liberty and West Chester townships. There are a few in Fairfield, Madison and St. Clair townships.

Wilkens told the Journal-News they are adding the pedestrian countdown pads at crosswalks, radar devices, cameras and technology so lights can change accordingly when emergency vehicles are approaching.

“It’ll be safer for drivers and pedestrians,” he said.

He said the radar devices help with traffic flow and the new system also allows them to control the signals remotely, like the new system the city of Hamilton installed, to avoid gridlock sparked by the new Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill complex.

“We’ve got a radar system that looks out 500 ... 600 feet to see if cars are coming, and it keeps that signal green if there’s no approaching traffic rather than just letting it change,” Wilkens said.

He said they already have the remote control capability on Tylersville Road from Interstate 75 going east, but they don’t deploy it very often.

“We can tweak that remotely if we had to, but when you play with that stuff you’ve got to be careful because you can upset the apple cart,” Wilks said.

He said normally the signals are controlled on-site when there are large events.

He was able to get the grant through the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments that doles out federal funding for local projects. The $1 million price tag sounds a bit steep for control panels, but Wilkens said that is the way of the new post-pandemic world.

Earlier this year West Chester Twp. had to pay $401,000 for a new traffic signal at the intersection of Tylersville and Smith roads. Wilkens managed that project.

“That signal jumped; we were in the neighborhood of $150,000, $200,000 ... that is what we budgeted for a signal,” Wilkens said. “That’s what’s happening in that world, too.”

Wilkens has also applied for a $813,639 Ohio Public Works Commission grant to construct a new roundabout at the tricky intersection of Cox Road and Kingsgate Way in West Chester Twp., near the proposed new Kroger Marketplace project.

If Wilkens gets the grant money, his department will chip in $340,548 and the West Chester trustees have approved a $25,000 contribution to the $1.18 million traffic circle.

As plans for the Kroger Marketplace have been going through the approval process, neighbors have complained bitterly what the giant store will do to traffic at that intersection.

Wilkens said the roundabout was in the works before the Kroger plan developed.

“It’s by the new Kroger it’s not for the new Kroger.... It’s an independent project really,” he said.

Final trustee approval for the Kroger Marketplace is tentatively scheduled for next Tuesday. It has been tabled twice because the entire board wasn’t present.

When the trustees approved their contribution last week, Trustee Ann Becker said the roundabout can’t come soon enough.

“I’ve been waiting for this roundabout ever since I’ve been on the board of trustees, not that it’s a pet project,” she said. “I am a Hopewell family, all my kids went to Hopewell and that intersection is the bane of my existence.”

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