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Tallmadge -- The city is working with the Ohio Department of Transportation on how to ease an anticipated increase in traffic congestion at the Circle.
Following an estimated year-long ODOT study of traffic patterns in the area, ODOT has asked the city for its preferred solution, according to Mayor Dave Kline. The city is basing its preference on what it thinks it can afford with the help of partial funding from ODOT and its desire to preserve the historic value of the Circle, he said.
The city is asking ODOT to continue the study to determine whether an "outer loop" that would use a combination of new and existing roads to provide motorists a secondary route around the Circle could be a solution.
"The goal is to create a total outer loop. It would be done in phases," Kline said.
By 2035, ODOT says traffic at the Circle will be very congested because of expanding development and business growth in the area.
"Tallmadge Circle is one of the heaviest-traveled intersections in Summit County. You have 45,000 to 50,000 cars a day, on average, going around the Circle," Kline said. "In 2030, with their formulas and projections, it's just going to be totally blocked."
Some of the congestions of the Circle is somewhat alleviated by another alternate route made of Howe, Britain, Eastwood and Munroe roads but not enough, he said.
The city also had considered officially making the Circle a two-lane highway, but Kline said that option isn't ideal because more vehicle accidents may happen as motorists in the inner lane try to exit to a spoke road.
Kline said it's likely that if ODOT agrees to partially fund the project, which could cost up to a total of $10 million [projected for inflation], ODOT would pay 80 percent of the costs, and the city would be responsible for the balance. He said the funding should be available by 2030.
The project would take about five years to complete, he said.
In order to create the "outer loop," the city will need to acquire properties and build new roads that connect West Avenue to Southwest Avenue; Southwest to South Avenue; South to Southeast Avenue; and Northeast Avenue to Overdale Road. It will then use existing roads of Southeast Avenue, Erie Road, East Avenue, Community Road, East and West Overdale roads, Nottingham Street and West Avenue to complete the loop.
The proposed loop won't be a perfect circle or oval because the intersections wouldn't line up, Kline said.
The next phase of the study should take another year. Then the next steps would be to determine when the ODOT funding would be available, and when the city would be able to pay for its share of the cost, Kline said.
Not only would the loop provide an alternate route for motorists not wanting to battle the Circle during busy times, Kline said it also could be good for the local economy.
"I think it will also spur economic development because the use of some of this land could create businesses off of these new roads," he said.
In terms of congestion, Kline said ODOT has given the Circle a letter ranking of "F," in a scale from "A" being the least congested to "F-" being the most. He said an outer loop will result in the Circle's rating improving to a "D."
Although Kline said an outer circle won't completely alleviate congestion in the center of town, any improvement is beneficial.
"A 'D' is better than an 'F,'" he said. "You still have the Tallmadge Circle and the historic value of the Circle. That's the signature of Tallmadge."
He said some options, such as building a bridge over the Circle or creating a cul-de-sac at the end of one of the spokes, would affect that historic value.