Nineteen of Ohio’s top 100 roads, highways and intersections that need improvements to reduce crashes are in Lorain County, according to a three-year study by the Ohio Department of Transportation.
The study used data collected from high-crash or severe-crash locations across the state to determine where problem areas lie, according to ODOT spokeswoman Joyce Miller. Miller was reluctant to designate the roads as dangerous but said there has been a high frequency of crashes or severe crashes at the top 100 locations, which were studied from 2010 to 2012.
The list compiled by ODOT did not rank the roadways solely by the total number of crashes, but those with “the greatest potential for safety improvement.”
“Those are the locations that have the highest potential for reducing crashes,” she said.
The studies were conducted to determine where improvements can be made using $81 million from ODOT’s Safety Program — an annual program in which ODOT dedicates money for engineering improvements at high-crash or severe-crash locations across the state.
Miller said improvements could be as extensive as a complete reconstruction of the roadway or as minor as adding signage.
If the street is within a city corporation limit, ODOT will perform the traffic study; however, it is up to the determination of the city to either monitor the location, perform countermeasures or pursue safety funding from ODOT for a project, Miller said.
Among the intersections with the most crashes were the intersections of Center Ridge Road and state Route 113 at Route 57; Lorain Boulevard at Bell Avenue; and JFK Memorial Parkway (state Route 57) at North Abbe Road, all in Elyria.
The Center Ridge Road intersection, which was rated 20th, had an average of 36.5 crashes per year. At Lorain Boulevard and Bell Avenue, there were about 20 crashes per year; and at JFK Memorial Parkway and North Abbe Road, there were almost 40 crashes.
The areas with the most crashes were portions of state Route 254 between North Abbe Road and Interstate 90 in Elyria, which had averaged about 155 crashes annually.
Portions of Route 57 — in Elyria and Lorain — also were ranked high. Route 57 has long been considered a dangerous road in the county.
According to a police analysis, Route 57 was included in eight of the top 10 accident spots in Elyria in 2011 and 2010. One of three fatal accidents in the city in 2011 occurred at the intersection with East Broad Street when a 14-year-old boy on a bicycle was struck by a van.
Last year, Police Chief Duane Whitely attributed the crashes to heavy traffic in the area, particularly during rush hour. A change in traffic light patterns after the road was reconstructed in 2008 created some issues, too.
As part of ODOT’s study, portions of U.S. Route 20 in Oberlin also were listed as problem spots.
Oberlin Police Chief Tom Miller said he was unaware of the study, but he said police have been to the area often.
“It is one of the busier intersections, so we do get called out there frequently,” he said.
ODOT’s study was conducted using AASHTOWare Safety Analyst, which uses statistical methodologies to identify roadway locations and safety improvements with the highest potential for reducing crashes. The software system flags spot locations and road segments that have higher-than-predicted crash frequencies. It also flags locations for review based on crash severity, according to ODOT’s website.
To be included on the list, a location would have to have a minimum of 10 crashes in a three-year period. As a part of the study, ODOT also compiled “predicted” crashes — those that estimate a long-term average of crash frequency.
The study covered both rural and urban areas within the state.
Miller said ODOT is completing more in-depth studies of the problem areas. Studies of several areas in Elyria will be provided to the city, when completed. A major reconstruction project also is planned to begin next spring, at Route 57 between Interstate 80 and Midway Boulevard.
“Some of these studies take additional time as they are more in-depth in nature,” Miller said. “However, at a minimum, all studies include crash history, an explanation of the current roadway condition, past improvements to that particular location and probable causes of those crash patterns as well as recommendations on solutions.”