Street used by thousands of drivers a day to eliminate lanes to improve safety

DAYTON — The City of Dayton believes putting a major road on a “diet” will improve safety and lower dangerous speeds.

City commissioners are going to launch a $2.3 million designed plan to shrink a stretch of Keowee Street.

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The section of Keowee Street near East Fifth Street to Monument Avenue will become smaller. Usually, the size of a road is increased to make it safer, but the city believes this time, taking away lanes will make things safer.

This section of Keowee Stree is seven lanes wide, and 89 feet across in some spots. It’s difficult for older or very young pedestrians to cross safely.

The wide nature of the road causes many drivers to increase speeds to 50 or 55 miles per hour on a street with a 35-mile-per-hour speed limit.

“Keowee there now is a full seven lanes wide, we are going to bring it down to five lanes,” said Joe Weinel, Dayton’s Chief Civil Engineer.

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He said they applied for a $2 million ODOT safety grant for the project because of the numbers.

An ODOT database shows 232 crashes in the last five years on this short stretch. 81 of those were fatal or injury crashes. There were 52 wrecks involving the left turn lanes and 12 involving pedestrians or cyclists.

“Hopefully going to eliminate the crashes, reduce the crashes there have been a lot,” Weinel said.

“It doesn’t feel unsafe at all,” said Adam Ramadan, owner of AJR Auto Sales at the corner of Keowee St. and Monument Ave.

His business will be impacted tremendously by any road work done here. He doesn’t see the need for the road diet and thinks the area has a normal amount of crashes and calls them typical accidents. He is worried about the proposed construction and possible congestion during and after roadwork.

“If they shrink it, it’s going to be more traffic, but I don’t feel like it’s going to be good for the business,” Ramadan said.

The good news for Ramadan is that the city is just now beginning the design and engineering phase of this project.

Overall, the city estimates this will cost about $2.3 million. 90 percent of that will be coming from an ODOT grant, which means the city will only be spending around $250 thousand to get it done.

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