SIDNEY — A temporary barrier will close the southbound lane of Wilkinson Avenue at state Route 47 within the next month.
The action was determined by Sidney City Council, Monday, during a discussion about the need to address the street’s intersection with state Route 47 sooner than the scheduled construction plans would do in late winter 2020.
Gary Clough, assistant city manager/public works director, sought direction from council about whether to accelerate the planned intersection modifications. He said that there have been two crashes at the intersection since the state Route 47 improvement project began earlier this year. Clough noted the crashes “may or may not have been avoidable by closing the intersection.”
Clough presented three options for dealing with the dangerous intersection: do nothing, accelerate the construction plans or install a temporary barrier. A preliminary cost estimate to modify Wilkinson Avenue is $85,500.
Currently, 95 percent of the cost will be paid by Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) grant funds. If construction is accelerated and removed from the state Route 47 improvement project, Sidney would have pay 100 percent of the cost, he said.
The cost of a temporary closure mirroring Mannick Smith’s final design, with signs, striping and barricades — instead of permanent curb and pavement removal — would be around $15,000, Clough said.
Council member Steve Wagner asked Clough if constructing the temporary barrier would add to the city’s planned cost for the project. Clough said the cost would remain about the same, except for the cost to remove the temporary barricade. All of the signage and striping on the roadway is a necessary part of the construction plans that would be done in 2020, Clough said, and so it will not increase the city’s cost by much.
Wagner and council members Ed Hamaker, Darryl Thurber and Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan all voiced being in favor of spending the money to place the temporary barrier.
Hamaker said he had heard from several citizens who were asking what could be done after the last fatal crash at the intersection. He said it is a good idea to spend the money on the temporary barrier to avoid another crash.
Milligan asked for confirmation that it would be at least two and a half years before the intersection’s construction will be completed. She liked the idea of a temporary barrier but wondered if it will be enough to prevent people from going around it. Milligan said the city may “learn something” to help with the final design over the next couple of years with the temporary closure.
Thurber asked if the temporary barrier would be able to be moved by the average citizen. Clough said the barrier would either be made of concrete or plastic barricades filled with water, which could not easily be moved without equipment.
Council member Joe Ratermann asked if it was known if the crashes could have been avoided by a barrier. Clough said he was uncertain of the answer but knew that in one of the crashes a medical issue may have been involved. Police Chief Will Balling said Ohio State Patrol handled the last fatal crash in the intersection, and he believes the crash was likely caused by a medical issue. It was then pointed out, however, that a barricade may have kept vehicles from proceeding onto state Route 47.
City Manager Mark Cundiff asked if an ordinance would be required for changes to the traffic control map. Law Director Jeffery Amick said he would feel more comfortable if an ordinance was on the books before citations were issued. Clough noted that the city made previous, temporary modifications without an ordinance.
Mayor Mike Barhorst clarified with Amick that the city is permitted to erect the temporary barrier without an ordinance in place, and after one is passed by council, police would be permitted to issue citations.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.