From Saturday's Delaware Gazette (and behind a paywall to boot)
ODOT eyes left-turn lanes at Ohio 315, 750
PAUL COMSTOCK Staff Writer
The Ohio Department of Transportation has a plan which could lead to the installation of left-turn lanes on all approaches to the Ohio 315 and Ohio 750 intersection in 2014.
ODOT District 6 engineer Thom Slack gave details to a Friday morning gathering of the Greater Powell Area Chamber of Commerce at the Liberty Township-Powell YMCA.
The proposal is one part of a larger plan to prevent part of the intersection from sliding into the Olentangy River.
Slack said the river slowly is eating away the embankment north and south of the intersection. ODOT has been developing a project “the past couple of years” to stop the problem.
Additionally, “there’s always been a desire to at least improve the (750 and 315) intersection,” he said, “and we wanted to find a way to get as much turn lane as possible in there as part of this project.”
The plan is “in very much draft format,” Slack said, and several things will have to fall into place before all the turn lanes can be added.
The Ohio 315 pavement will have to be widened and ODOT will need to obtain land on the west side of the road.
The plan assumes the remainder of the hillside on 315’s west side can be kept in place by a retaining wall yet to be built, Slack said. ODOT will need to confirm that assumption is correct.
The plan “looks great on a flat piece of paper,” he said, but it remains to be seen if it can be successfully engineered on the actual terrain.
Even if all four turn lanes can be installed, “it’s not enough to turn that (traffic) signal back into nirvana,” Slack said.
ODOT’s tentative plan calls for a turn lane 300 feet long for northbound traffic on 315, and 100 feet long for southbound traffic. Those lengths are “a little bit of a compromise,” he said.
About 18 months ago, ODOT did a study showing the turn lane for northbound traffic would have to be 600 feet long “to make the intersection function … properly.” That much length would make the project cost-prohibitive, he said.
Such an expanded plan also would need a high ranking on ODOT’s capital improvement project list before it could be funded, he said. Some projects on the list wait years for funding.
The plan to stop erosion caused by the river will be covered by maintenance funds and won’t be on the capital improvements list, Slack said. That could increase the likelihood funds will be available, but it doesn’t guarantee it, he said.
He said if the turn-lane plan does succeed, it is “not an effort to turn 315 into a three– or five-lane boulevard” along its length.
Things look more promising for Ohio 750; Slack said ODOT “definitely” can add turn lanes there. The bridge on the east side is wide enough for three marked lanes, and widening 750 on the west side can be accomplished with relative ease.
The work on the riverbank will be extensive and probably will force a detour of 315, Slack said. Pilings will be installed to hold up the river’s embankment.
At least once before, in 2008, the Olentangy devoured some pavement. Part of Chapman Road slid into the riverbed, creating damage exceeding $144,000.
Also during the Friday session, ODOT engineer Fay Taylor joined Slack in describing work planned on Ohio 750 west of Powell. When the work is finished, 750 will have multiple lanes between Powell and the highway’s bypass around the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Taylor and Slack also said they would look into some of the Chamber members’ concerns about the timing of traffic signals on Ohio 750 (Powell Road) inside the city.