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27 construction to cause delays

By Dylan Sparks
On May 5, 2014

According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, a two-year-long construction project, which seeks to improve U.S. Route 27, has begun and is scheduled to last until May 31, 2015 and is expected to cost $7.5 million.

Modifications to the roadway will begin at the top of the Chestnut Street and Patterson Avenue intersection and extend to Southpointe Parkway.

According to the Butler County Engineer's Office website, the U.S. 27 construction will include the addition of center turn lanes, and the widening of the existing road lanes. The project is also scheduled to add full shoulders to the roadways, replace the bridge and add new traffic signals.

Mark Wilson, area engineer and administrator of the construction project for the Ohio Department of Transportation, explained the construction's effects on daily traffic.

"The travel lanes will be reduced in width, which will cause traffic to slow down," Wilson said. "There may be brief times where traffic will have to be held up, but we try to schedule those activities to avoid the morning rush and evening rush hours."

The construction project also runs along the entrance to Talawanda High School (THS) on University Park Boulevard. According to Holli Morrish, Talawanda School District employee and co-chair of the Miami and Talawanda Partnership, the construction has already affected students and bus drivers.

"We have advised our students to take alternate routes to Talawanda if possible, so they can avoid traffic and delays," Morrish said. "Some employees have begun to come in earlier to avoid traffic altogether."

Morrish also said the construction traffic and delays are expected to worsen.

"We just received a memo that informed us that construction is now going to begin at 7 a.m. and not 7:30 a.m." Morris said. "The construction will only allow the highway to operate on one lane of traffic, which will obviously cause problems for students."

Victor Popescu, engineer for the City of Oxford, said there were issues with the current speed limit in the construction zone.

"Our biggest concerns are maintaining traffic on the road, which will be shortened in width from 12 feet to 10 feet and getting the speed limit down from 45 mph to 25 mph in the construction zone," Popescu said. "As of now, the construction will be going on at the speed limit of 45 mph, but I guarantee we get that down to 25 mph to ensure better safety."

Oxford City manager Doug Elliott said the project should ensure safety for more drivers and pedestrians.

"If your car breaks down there is no shoulder to pull over to without blocking traffic," Elliott said. "By adding sidewalks to both sides of the route from Chestnut to Southpointe, the construction project will make the route much safer, which is important with the new high school [THS] there."

Miami University sophomore Ele Contreras frequently uses U.S. 27 to journey from his Oxford home to Miami-Hamilton throughout the week.

"Sometimes there are five to 10 minute delays that will cause the trip to take a little longer than I'd like," Contreras said. "So far the construction has not been an inconvenience for me, but since it will be going on for another year, I will have to figure out the times when traffic is slow and work around it."

According to Sharon Smigielski, public information officer for District 8 of the Ohio Department of Transportation, another goal of the project is to improve the visibility of the roads so drivers will be able to see the around the bends and curves of U.S. 27.

"This is a project to add turn lanes to U.S. 27 .... as well as to correct the vertical profile," Smigielski said. "There are some dips and valleys, and they'll be straightening out the roadway to improve sight distance."

The Ohio State Highway Patrol website reported four fatal car accidents on U.S. 27 since 2010.

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