By Linda Dillman
A light at the end of the tunnel might be in sight for drivers navigating improvements to Gender Road in Canal Winchester since the road was first widened from U.S. 33 to Groveport Road in 1997.
The city of Canal Winchester is submitting Phase IV of the project to the Ohio Public Works Commission in September for improvements to the Gender/Groveport Road intersection. Rough engineering estimates place the total cost at $1.5 million.
Plans include a dedicated right turn lane from westbound Groveport Road to northbound Gender Road; an additional left turn lane from eastbound Groveport Road to northbound Gender Road; an additional through lane for southbound Gender Road, traffic signal improvements and the extension of the bike path to the west.
According to Construction Services Administrator Bill Sims, the OPWC application is due Sept. 15.
“If we are not successful, we will evaluate the results and see if we can make some changes to make it more competitive in a future round,” said Sims.
The improvements to the Gender Road corridor have not just been beneficial, according to Sims, but necessary to accommodate the increase of traffic volumes utilizing the road.
“The roadway is an essential part of the retail, commercial and industrial uses along the corridor along with being a primary access point to U.S. 33, not only for our residents, but for the region,” said Sims. “Traffic volumes are forecasted to continue increasing in the area. We will continue to evaluate the performance of the road and make necessary improvements to provide the safe and efficient use of it.”
In addition to the original widening project more than 17 years ago, the Ohio Department of Transportation performed a signal synchronization project encompassing the same area in 2006. A year later, a developer-funded project improved the intersection at Dietz Drive.
Gender Road Phase I, at a construction cost of $1.46 million, added lanes and signal improvements at Winchester Boulevard and Foxhill in 2010. Two years later, Gender Road was widened from U.S. 33 to Winchester Highlands and improvements made to the Winchester Pike signalized intersection during Phase II at a cost of $2.37 million.
A $1.39 million, Gender Road Phase III reconfiguration of the Lithopolis Road intersection was completed earlier this summer with the city’s first three-entry, single-lane roundabout. An average of more than 14,000 vehicles pass through the former signalized intersection on a daily basis and engineers estimate the number could double by 2034.
The city first recognized the need for intersection improvements during the development of the Canal Winchester Middle School on Lithopolis Road. Traffic studies were performed in early 2012, a funding application was submitted fall of 2012 and a grant awarded in 2013. Design was performed in 2013 and the project bid out at the beginning of 2014.
Sims previously said, “The two primary advantages to utilizing a roundabout intersection are increased traffic flow and increased safety. There is an overall reduction in accidents and a very significant reduction in the severity of the accidents.”