TRANSPORTATION I-680 off-ramp set to be built near turnpike

Traffic backups on the freeway pose a safety hazard, officials say.
BOARDMAN -- Though it's likely years away, state and local officials are endorsing the addition of an exit ramp off Interstate 680 between Western Reserve Road and the Ohio Turnpike.
State Rep. John Boccieri, D-61, estimated that 23,000 vehicles per day travel from I-680 onto Western Reserve Road, the last exit on I-680 southbound before the Ohio Turnpike.
About 10,000 of those vehicles head south off Western Reserve.
With business and commercial development growing in the southern portion of Mahoning County, that volume is likely to increase, he said.
"The volume of traffic may pose a safety hazard," Boccieri said, referring to traffic that backs up from Western Reserve onto the freeway.
Shirley Heck, a Springfield Township trustee, said the backup can present problems for emergency personnel trying to respond to calls.
"We are all in support of this," she said. "We need to alleviate the traffic congestion here."
The big picture
Eastgate Regional Council of Governments is conducting a long range plan to combat traffic congestion. The study calls for a ramp off I-680 at either state Route 626 or state Route 164.
Mahoning County engineer Richard Marsico said his office plans to widen Western Reserve Road to ease the congestion, although that project is likely at least a few years away.
Marsico agreed that an additional ramp would aid in keeping motorists who are traveling to southern Mahoning or Columbiana County on the interstate and off Western Reserve.
"It would be a big help to alleviate the traffic congestion in this area," he said.
The roughly $500,000 study, funded by federal highway dollars already appropriated, will take a year to 18 months to complete, said Ken Sympson, Eastgate's director of highway planning.
He said an additional ramp has been part of Eastgate's long-range plan to ease congestion for some time, but it takes the support of local officials to make it a reality.
The study will look at traffic counts, accident frequency and other issues. The cost of a ramp won't be determined until the study is completed. Sympson said that it would likely take five to eight years to secure funding and construct an additional ramp.

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