By Rick Palsgrove
It looks like a typical, safe intersection, surrounded by flat terrain and decent sight lines for drivers, but it is dangerous.
The intersection of Bixby and Ebright roads has seen numerous vehicle crashes in the past few years. City of Groveport officials have noticed and ordered a traffic study about it.
“We work this intersection a lot (responding to vehicle crashes),” said Groveport City Councilman Ed Dildine, who is also a member of the Madison Township Fire Department. “It seems like there are a lot of accidents there.”
A recent traffic study conducted by IBI Group shows that, from 2015 to 2019, there were 19 vehicle crashes at the intersection and from January to October 2020 there were seven more accidents.
The intersection currently has 36 inch stop signs with LED lights on Bixby Road.
“It’s not a failure to stop problem. It’s a failure to yield problem,” Jim Brenneman of the IBI Group told Groveport City Council on Jan. 19.
The traffic study shows the peak hours for traffic at the intersection are from 7:15-8:15 a.m. with 254 vehicles north and south bound on Ebright Road and 276 vehicles eastbound on Bixby Road; and from 4:15-5:15 p.m. with 484 vehicles north and south bound on Ebright Road and 343 vehicles eastbound on Bixby Road. In a 12 hour period there are 1,675 vehicles southbound on Ebright Road and 1,159 eastbound on Bixby Road.
Groveport City Engineer Steve Farst noted that, when there is a traffic back up on nearby U.S Route 33, drivers bail out on U.S. 33 and pour onto Bixby Road.
However, Brenneman said the traffic volume numbers do not warrant a traffic light or designated left turn lanes, but there are other options that can be pursued immediately, including: installing 48 inch stop signs with LED lighting on Bixby Road; installing 48 inch “stop ahead” signs on Bixby Road; and removing or pruning nearby bushes.
He said a medium-term option would be to make the intersection a four-way stop.
“But I’m not in favor of a four-way stop,” said Brenneman. “Stop signs delay drivers and many times the drivers become impatient. Impatient drivers cause crashes.”
Farst agreed, stating, “I’ve researched the Federal Highway Administration and the Ohio Department of Transportation and the information shows that it is a myth that a four-way stop is safer and reduces accidents.”
Dildine said, “I don’t like the idea of a four-way stop there either. It would disrupt the traffic flow on Ebright Road.”
Brenneman said a long term solution for the intersection is to build a modern one lane roundabout there.
“Roundabouts are proven to be safe and function as traffic control devices,” said Brenneman. “Roundabouts reduce high speed angle collisions. The low speed crashes that do occur are generally much less severe than at a stop sign controlled intersection.”
Brenneman said the estimated cost for roundabouts range from $300,000 to $1 million.
Council will consider its options regarding the intersection at future meetings and work with Madison Township and Franklin County, as those entities have some jurisdiction in the area.