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Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 @ 8:11 AM
Construction on Xenia’s first roundabout is expected to start this summer, a project aimed at making an intersection on the east side of town safer and more attractive.
Bids will be sought by the Ohio Department of Transportation beginning in April on the $1.1 million project to install a roundabout at East Church and North Columbus streets. Xenia council members voted 5-1 to move forward on the project at their last meeting. Councilman Levi Dean voted against the measure.
The project is mostly funded by a federal safety grant of $837,614 through the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission. Xenia will pay $279,205 to cover the rest.
ODOT is administering the project, construction on which is set to begin in mid-July, according to ODOT District 8 Spokesman Brian Cunningham.
Construction is estimated to take about a year, with the intersection expected to reopen by the end of June 2020.
Councilman Dale Louderback addressed concerns from residents who think the money would be better spent fixing other streets that are in poor shape.
Louderback said there is a safety concern at the intersection, citing a city staffer who reported crews have done repairs to the guardrail at the intersection 12 times in the last 10 years.
“This is going to alleviate that because it’s going to be slower speeds in a roundabout. Also, I support it for the aesthetics for the east end of Xenia. We have a West Main Street enhancement, which turned out very good,” Louderback said.
Councilman Will Urschel said he did some research after hearing concerns in the community that the roundabout project was not “a good expenditure of funds.” Urschel cited statistics from the National Transportation Safety Board that indicates that roundabouts reduce fatal crashes by 90 percent and injury crashes by 75 percent.
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Prior to his “yes” vote, Urschel said the grant was acquired for this specific project in 2013, and if council voted not to move forward, those funds would go away along with expenditures by the city that have already occurred.
“We’re downstream. We spent our city dollars … It would be foolish to not pursue this,” Urschel said. “I think the next time we go back to the state and say we want to go do a project … They’re going to say, ‘We set aside state dollars we could have allocated to another community and you chose at the very last minute to set those dollars aside’ … I think we’ll lose a little credibility with the state if we would decide to pull out at this point.”