Hamilton’s next high-crash target: Hampshire Drive and Ohio 129

Now that Hamilton is on its way to improving its third high-crash intersection along the corridor of High and Main streets, officials plan to target another one: Where Hampshire Drive and Ohio 129 intersect on the eastern edge of town.

It’s among the most dangerous in the state, said Kathleen Fuller, a spokeswoman for Ohio Department of Transportation District 8, ranked No. 36 for urban freeways.

The city on June 1 began construction on the intersection of Main with Cereal, Haldimand, Western and McKinley avenues — the third project aimed at improving safety — and that $3.6 million project should be finished in September of 2021, with Sunesis Construction doing the work. Almost $2.9 million of that cost will be borne by ODOT, with the city paying a bit more than $700,000, said Rich Engle, the city’s director of engineering.

The Main-Cereal-Haldimand intersection will be converted into a normal four-way crossing with 90-degree angles, which is safer than when streets meet at sharper angles.

Before that, Hamilton improved safety at the intersection of High Street with Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, followed by the intersection of Main Street with Millville and Eaton Avenues, also for safety reasons.

Meanwhile, ODOT is now operating a safety-funding program in which the state pays 100 percent for projects, including engineering, property purchases and construction, and Hamilton submitted an application for the Hampshire/Ohio 129 intersection.

“We thought we had a pretty good chance of getting funding for that, but unfortunately, our scoring in the ODOT funding system did not rate it high enough to be funded at this time,” Engle said. But, he added: “We have strong support from District 8 engineering. We’re working with them to revise our application and be able to increase the scoring on it, and we’ll be re-applying for that intersection this fall.”

The city may have to add some funding of its own to the estimated $4.5 million project, “but it’s such an important intersection for us to reduce the number of crashes that occur there that we’re going to do what we can,” Engle said.

In the four years from 2016 through 2019, the Hampshire/Ohio 129 intersection had 67 wrecks, and nearly 48 percent (32 of them) caused injuries.

Most of the intersection’s crashes involved a vehicle hitting another from behind, and 23 of the wrecks involved eastbound vehicles rear-ending others. The second most common type crash involved eastbound vehicles on Ohio 129 turning left onto northbound Hampshire Drive (13 such wrecks).

The most common times for crashes there were between noon and 6 p.m.

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