U.S. 23-315 plan behind schedule
The contentious process of selecting a plan to improve traffic flow at the intersection of U.S. 23 and Ohio 315 has fallen behind schedule, the city of Delaware said, and all options remain under consideration.
“We are about three weeks behind schedule, but that is reasonable, based on the scope of the project and the alternatives under study,” city spokesman Lee Yoakum said.
“(The city) staff, (the Ohio Department of Transportation) and stakeholders, including Turkey Hill and the Historical Society, continue to evaluate and discuss all alternatives, including F, to determine the final alternative,” he said.
Turkey Hill company president Darel Pfeiff and Delaware County Historical Society vice president of operations Roger Koch wrote letters to the city criticizing Alternative F.
Alternative F would reroute part of Stratford Road, creating a second Stratford-23 intersection about 1,200 feet north of U.S. 23 and 315. The new intersection would have a signal. Stratford Road traffic could turn both north and south, and U.S. 23 traffic could turn into Stratford Road. At the existing Stratford-23 intersection, Stratford Road would be right in, right out.
The Stratford Ecological Center also opposes Alternative F, as well as Alternative D.
Koch’s letter favored Alternative D, which would swing Ohio 315 behind an old church near the site, linking it to U.S. 23 at nearly a right angle. The Stratford Road approach would move slightly to the north, to align with Ohio 315.
Ecological Center director Jeff Dickinson said the center owns land on both sides of U.S. 23. Alternative D would require a couple of acres of the center’s land, he said, and Alternative F might take more.
Dickinson said the center has some legal muscle that might help its fight.
About seven years ago, the center donated its development rights to Ohio Office of Farmland Preservation. No Ecological Center land can be taken, he said, without the approval of the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Gov. John Kasich.
The center also is a designated state preserve, Dickinson said. That gives the center the same kind of protection enjoyed by the Highbanks Metro Park, he said.
Dickinson said the Ecological Center prefers Alternative C.
Alternative C would slightly move the Ohio 315 approach to align it with Stratford Road. It also would extend the turn lane for southbound traffic turning off U.S. 23 and create a sharper angle for southbound traffic turning off Ohio 315.
“It’s the most cost-effective, least impactful on the landowner and maintains the green space we’re for,” he said.
During a public hearing in January, Valerie Croasmun of MS Consultants said Alternatives C, D and F are part of a study created to identify options to reduce traffic accidents at the intersection by reducing traffic flow and congestion. The city of Delaware also worked on the study, which uses input from ODOT.
U.S. 23 and Ohio 315, she said, has a very high crash rate, more than double the state average.
Croasmun also gave poor marks to Alternatives C and D.
The advantages of each, she said, would wane when traffic is much heavier in 20 years. Alternative F lacks that disadvantage, she said.
In his letter to the city, Pfeiff said Alternative F might force the closure of the Turkey Hill gas station and store on Stratford Road near U.S. 23. Under Alternative F, traffic turning south onto U.S. 23 from Stratford Road no longer would drive past the gas station.
The Delaware County Historical Society owns the nearby Meeker Homestead property, site of Garth’s Auctions.
In his letter, Koch said the historical society “will actively resist any attempt by ODOT or the city of Delaware to acquire any portion of our property” to realign Stratford Road to a new intersection with U.S. 23.
Koch’s said Alternative D has been “promised to be the long-awaited redesign of this intersection for over 10 years.”
Delaware City Council member Andrew Brush earlier said that while ODOT has made the city a lead agency in the process, all the work would be funded by the state and, “It really is an ODOT project.”
Those attending the January meeting were told that following selection of an alternative, construction could begin in 2015.