The project’s purpose is to upgrade the intersections of Big Walnut Road at Old 3C Highway, and Big Walnut Road at Tussic Street to improve safety for vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian users. The project is also intended to ensure continued efficiency and reliability for motorists at the intersections.
Safety: From 2016 to 2020, there were a total of 13 reported crashes at these 2 intersections, nearly all involving angle (T-bone) type collisions. One crash involved a bicycle.
Pedestrian Facilities: There is an existing crosswalk located at the South Old 3C intersection; however, there are no pedestrian or bicycle facilities at the Tussic Street intersection or between the 2 intersections.
Efficiency and Reliability: Traffic volumes have increased steadily over the last 10 years (except for COVID-related drop in 2020). Peak-hour delay is notable, though has not reached a critical level yet. Continued development and population growth to the north and east is expected to increase both the severity of delays and extend measurable delays into more hours of the day.
Traffic engineers used a grading system based on average delay known as Level of Service or LOS, with grades from A (little or no delay) to F (significant delays). The 4-way stop at Old 3C is estimated to operate at LOS C or D in peak travel hours with average with overall delay of 15-35 seconds. Off-peak hours have little delay.
The Tussic Street intersection has estimated LOS C to E on the Tussic Street approaches with average delays of 15-50 seconds in the peak hour (no delay on Big Walnut Road). Off-peak hours have little delay.
Delaware County has retained American Structurepoint, a regional firm with offices in Ohio and surrounding states, to study the existing intersections and develop preliminary plans for upgrades.
The County Engineer has requested evaluation of alternatives including traffic signals with turn lanes, and single-lane roundabouts. Due to the intersection skew angle at Old 3C, a non-traditional “peanut” roundabout will also be studied to see if it is feasible and whether it will reduce property impacts.
We expect that each alternative will have pros and cons that will have to be considered and discussed with residents and local officials, including Genoa Township. NO DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE. All options, including keeping the existing intersections as-is and delaying any action for a number of years, are on the table. Upgrades at one or the other intersection, instead of both, will also be considered.
Q. Why are you doing this project?
A. We have identified a crash problem with these 2 intersections, as well as a lack of any pedestrian infrastructure to get users from South Old 3C to Tussic Street Road safely. Also, projected growth in the area also indicates more significant travel delays during peak hours will become a problem in the coming years, so traffic flow upgrades will be needed in the near future.
Q. Have you made up your mind on what you will be doing?
A. No. We have asked our engineering consultant to look at several different alternatives, including single lane roundabouts as well as turn lanes and traffic signals. Ultimately, the County Engineer will make the decision on the best alternative after consultation with the public and local officials and evaluation of the merits of each option.
Q. Traffic doesn’t seem that bad right now. What’s the hurry?
A. Traffic delay at these two intersection ISN’T that bad… at least not yet. The reality is that Genoa Township is a very desirable community and new residents are moving to the area every day. New development in areas to the north off Old 3C and Tussic is expected to increase both the severity of delays, as well as extend these delays into more hours of the day. Projects like these take years to develop and we are doing what we can to stay ahead of the growth. Once we decide on what should be done here, it will take several years to finalize plans, relocate utilities and purchase any additional land that is needed. Any planned upgrades wouldn’t be under construction until at least 2024 or later.
Q. Won’t an upgrade of the intersections just draw more traffic?
A. In a word, no. Intersection safety upgrades generally have no effect on the generation of trips in the area, or the routes people choose to drive. In this case, neither intersection is currently over capacity, meaning even if the traffic flow at each intersection is improved with a traffic signal, turn lanes or a roundabout, there is no “pent up traffic demand” that wants to use the roads that isn’t already doing so. It’s far more likely that the same amount of traffic that has always driven these roads will continue to use these roads, but would be able to get through these intersections more efficiently and more safely after the project is done.
Q. Does this project have anything to do with the residential development on Tussic Street north of Big Walnut?
A. No. This project is needed with or without the proposed Ravines at Hoover Subdivision.
Q. Can’t you just put up 4-way stop signs at Tussic Street?
A. We have ruled out the idea of a 4-way stop at Tussic Street and Big Walnut. First, we do like 4-way stops at certain locations because they can be a very safe, very cost-efficient way of handling intersections. With that said, they don’t work everywhere. When 4-way stops are installed at locations which people don’t expect, they can actually create more severe crashes. The reality is that people do run stop signs, either intentionally or unintentionally, whenever they are placed somewhere that motorists don’t expect them or don’t think they should be.
Big Walnut Road is a main east-west thoroughfare and we would expect relatively poor compliance with new east-west stop signs. Even if 99.99% of drivers comply, that still means 1 out of every 10,000 drivers may not. This segment of Big Walnut Road carries over 6,600 vehicles every day including heavy trucks, and Tussic Street carries nearly 3,000 per day which creates a significant potential of crashes.
The South Old 3C intersection is already a 4-way stop, and there are already crashes that occur at that intersection even with the 4-way stop that has been in place for many years. The reported crashes over the last 5 years have involved angle collisions or have involved bicyclists, which is a major safety concern.
Q. I don’t like the idea of eminent domain. How do you handle property acquisition?
A. First, eminent domain or appropriation of property is never the first option for any public agency. We would always prefer to work with you come to an agreement on how we can balance the needs of the public for a safe and efficient road, and your rights as a property owner. Ohio law provides numerous protections for property owners when it comes to public road projects and every owner is entitled due process with respect to acquisition of property.
If the county determines that any part of your property may be needed for a road project, the county must obtain a fair market value estimate or appraisal of that land and offer that amount to you. The county has absolutely no interest in shortchanging property owners of what they are due. We don’t get a bonus or a pat on the back if we can get your land cheaper than it’s worth. We live in this community too and also are property owners. You as a property owner aren’t required to accept our offer. You can counter offer, or can ask us to change our plans. If we are unable to change the plans, and still can’t agree to a value of the property, you are entitled to go through a process called appropriation where a court may require mediation in an attempt to settle a disagreement. If we’re still unable to agree, you may also elect to have a jury determine the price of the land that’s needed.
We welcome public input including questions or comments about this project. Please address your comments or questions to the project manager:
Ryan Mraz, Deputy Design Engineer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Engineering work will be underway starting late in 2020. Field surveys and preliminary design work will be completed by mid-2021. Once preliminary alternatives are identified, the County Engineer will share exhibits that show what each alternative would look like, with an estimate of property impacts associated with each option.
Engineering: late 2020 to early 2022
Property Purchase: 2022-23
Utility relocation: 2023-24