Citizens offer plenty on proposed Howland intersection changes
By Ed Runyan
People attending an open house seemed mostly satisfied with the innovative double-crossover configuration state officials are proposing for the state Route 46-Route 82 intersection in 2023.
Sam Bobko of the consulting firm Mott McDonald said Wednesday the configuration, also known as a diverging diamond, will “simplify everything” for drivers heading to and from the Eastwood Mall area by reducing the number of situations that lead to crashes.
There is only one other diverging diamond configuration in the state.
The intersection is one of three close to each other that have had high crash rates for decades.
The “cluster” of Routes 46-82, Route 46 and East Market Street, and Howland Wilson Road at Route 82 have made up the biggest crash cluster in Trumbull County since at least 1991, said Dave Griffith, Ohio Department of Transportation District 4 traffic-safety engineer.
The fourth improvement area is widening of Route 46 between Route 82 and East Market.
Because of the crashes, ODOT has tried one solution after another for decades, Griffith said. More than a decade ago, it proposed eliminating all traffic entering Route 82 from Howland Wilson.
The proposal discussed allows right turns in both directions from 82 to Howland Wilson. It eliminates the traffic light and cross traffic, replacing them with a grass median.
That option is acceptable to Howland safety forces because it won’t reduce response times to neighborhoods on the south side of Route 82, officials said.
Howland residents William and Danielle Robinson of Howland Springs Road say the loss of cross traffic on Howland Wilson by near 2025 will force them to make a longer trip home.
They were among many residents who had analyzed dozens of impacts the proposed changes will have on the traffic throughout the increasingly busy “cluster.”
For instance, the Robinsons believe the loss of access to Route 46 from Howland Wilson and Route 82 will send traffic down Howland Springs Road, which is already difficult to use as a route to the mall, the couple says.
The state is studying the possibility of realigning Howland Springs with the nearest cross street – Kenyon Drive – and installing a traffic light, but that’s not a part of the current proposal, Griffith said.
ODOT could also just add a traffic light at Howland Springs and Route 46, he noted.
Sherri DeHaven, who lives west of Route 82, said losing access to Route 82 at Howland Wilson won’t be a bad thing because she has a good alternate route to work.
One of the things that makes the intersection so dangerous is that people not familiar with it don’t expect a traffic light because it appears to be a freeway, Bobko said.
It leads to a lot of rear-end collisions, and 21 of 45 crashes from 2012 to 2014 involved injuries, a Mott McDonald study says.
A number of citizens spoke during the meeting’s public-comment portion, but people can continue to comment to ODOT until Oct. 5. ODOT is likely to decide in a month or so after that whether to move forward with the projects, Griffith said.