Diverging diamond takes shape
Construction zone crashes down slightly
HOWLAND — Records from the Howland Police Department show that traffic congestion resulting from the Ohio Department of Transportation’s diverging diamond project at state Routes 82 and 46 has resulted in minimal accidents near the construction zone about two months into the project.
However, police Chief Nick Roberts said motorists and residents’ frustration remains significant. He also gave a comparison of the number of crashes in October this year to the same time last year.
“We’ve had one less crash. We had 27 crashes last year during this time frame and 26 this year,” Roberts said.
Documents from the department show 37 total accidents in October 2022 and 40 through the end of last month. The numbers provided by Roberts represent crashes that occurred near the diverging diamond site.
In the same area, 15 of last month’s accidents involved more than one car, in bumper-to-bumper, collision and side swipe crashes. Most others involved mechanical issues or deer strikes, according to crash reports provided by the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
“I think our officers are doing a good job,” Roberts said, referring to their responding to calls and handling of crashes in the area. “In 2022, in this time frame, our officers made 44 traffic stops. And in the same time frame this year, we’ve made 140. So we’re in these areas a lot, we’re watching what’s going on and we’re keeping an eye on traffic. I understand people are frustrated, but it’s just how it’s going to be for a while with the construction.”
Roberts said motorists need to be patient, stay off their cellphones while driving and pay attention to the traffic pattern.
ODOT began early building stages in its diverging diamond project on Tuesday in Howland. The agency noted that drivers near the project area will begin seeing structural builds, along with pile driving and placement of parts for the new bridges.
Near the former westbound lane of Route 82 to Route 46, construction workers began making room for holes near stacked guardrails. Ray Marsch, public information officer for ODOT District 4, said what drivers are seeing is the contractors starting to place parts in the ground.
“They’re going to start to drill for shafts very soon,” Marsch explained. “Then, the beams will come. They are starting to construct the abutment walls and sheet piling between the old bridge and the new bridge.”
Justin Chesnic, Marsch’s assistant, said “Overall, the project is set to improve safety. There are lane restrictions, so there will be traffic delays. All we ask is that motorists stay patient. We’re hoping to build a safer and more convenient flow of traffic.”
In October, some residents complained about the flow of traffic in relation to a three-day period of the state’s demolition of the westbound Route 82 bridge over Route 46.
Business owners and customers suggested that traffic near the site is “already bad enough,” and added that the construction likely would have a negative effect on the flow of traffic. ODOT, however, planned for a four-day process of eliminating the bridge. It took them three days instead.
“We had that three-day closure, and some people were just frustrated,” Marsch added. “But the contractor did a great job finishing that up, even a day earlier than expected.”
Marsch said the state is on schedule with construction.
“We’re on time. But of course, the snow will soon slow things down in the schedule. As of now, everything is good. The contractors are working about five full days a week. That’s going to continue throughout the winter,” he said.