PARKMAN -- A 1.6 mile stretch of U.S. Route 422 here that has been the site of numerous accidents will be widened and flattened in four years , authorities say.
The highway is a popular route for commuters to the Cleveland area and for truckers heading to and from points north of Interstate 80, said Mark Carpenter, an Ohio Department of Transportation engineer assigned to the project.
The section scheduled to be improved in 2004 and 2005, from the Geauga County line west nearly to Farmington Road, is two lanes, sometimes running at different elevations, with no shoulder.
Cause for concern: There were 85 accidents on this stretch of Route 422 between 1990 and 1999, twice the state average for this type of road, ODOT stats show. Four of the accidents were fatal.
One of the fatal accidents took place at an intersection; the others happened when motorists tried to turn off the road.
For drivers to make a left turn, it is sometimes necessary for them to come to a complete stop in the road, Carpenter said. Because the road is hilly in places, cars coming up from behind sometimes don't see a stopped car until it is too late.
"By improving it, widening the shoulders and flattening the grade, we can really improve the safety out there," he said.
ODOT plans to reconfigure the stretch into a single road with four 12-foot travel lanes and a center lane for turning. The estimated cost of the project, to take place over two summers, is $5.5 million.
The current design of the road -- with opposite lanes following different rises and falls -- is the result of the west-bound lane being constructed alongside the original 1850 road in 1939.
Several portions of Route 422 further west also follow this construction, and the road drops down to two lanes for four miles in Troy Township. ODOT will be studying that area in the summer and fall for possible widening in 2008, Carpenter said.