Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

U.S. 27 construction to boost safety

The ongoing construction project promises to widen roadways as well as add paved shoulders and sidewalks for heightened public safety.

Photo by Jalen Walker

$7.5 million construction project estimated to be complete by 2016

By Devon Shuman, For The Miami Student

Travelers taking U.S. 27 South in Oxford within the last few months have probably noticed an abundance of bulldozers and yellow hard hats. The project will ultimately widen roadways and increase safety for drivers upon completion.

According to Oxford City Service Director Michael Dreisbach, the project, which is focused on widening the roadway, aims to create a less dangerous route for all travelers.

"The main goal is safety improvement for the roadway," Dreisbach said. "In addition to the widening of the road, we are also adding paved shoulders which we currently do not have, as well as concrete sidewalks on both sides of the road."

Dreisbach hopes the new shoulders and sidewalks will create a safer path not only for drivers, but also for pedestrians and bicyclists.

According to Dreisbach, the total cost of the project is $7.5 million, which will be covered through federal funding. Although the project is mainly focused on widening the road, it includes other improvements as well. City Engineer Victor Popescu is currently involved with the removal and reconstruction of the bridge over Collins Run.

"We are going to elevate the bridge," Popescu said. "The result will be the curve going up to the bridge and coming back down will not be as steep. The goal, of course, is always safety."

Sharon Smigielski, the Public Information Officer for District 8 of the Ohio Department of Transportation, explained that in addition to the road widening and the bridge elevation, the project will also include other minor improvements intended to create safer travel.

"There will be additional turn lanes at some major intersections," Smigielski said. "We will also be upgrading the traffic signals to the preferred standards."

All these improvements are tentatively scheduled to be completed by late fall of next year,

"It is hard to say because with any construction project you have unforeseen conditions," said Popescu. "It should be done by late fall of 2015 or early 2016."

Two-way traffic will be maintained all throughout the construction. However, despite the lack of detour routes, they should still use extra caution while traveling through construction zones.

"Travelers should keep to the speed limit and pay special attention when workers are in the area," Dreisbach said. "Fortunately, this portion of the road is mainly straight with no curves or bends, but drivers should still use caution."

Popescu sees even the 45-mile-per-hour speed limit as somewhat excessive, urging drivers to slow down more than that and be aware of their surroundings.

"There are currently no sidewalks and only two ten-foot wide travel lanes," he said. "It is dangerous and I would discourage bicycle riders and pedestrians from using the highway until construction is complete."

Both Dreisbach and Popescu said that the construction project is within environmental guidelines, explaining that prior to beginning construction, an environmental assessment was performed and they received clearance to proceed.

Come spring of 2016, people traveling in and out of Oxford via U.S. 27 South should have a much safer roadway.