Plans are underway to build a roundabout at the intersection of State Route (SR) 229 (Newcastle Road) and State Route 308 (W Wiggin Street), which sits just west of the Village of Gambier. According to Knox Pages, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Gambier officials are spearheading the project, which is expected to begin construction in June 2024.
Traffic safety concerns prompted the idea for the roundabout. In 2020, an accident at the intersection of SR 229 and Laymon Road, which leads to the Brown Family Environmental Center (BFEC), resulted in the death of a 21-year-old Gambier woman, along with injuries to three other people involved in the collision. Seventeen accidents were documented at the intersection between 2015 and 2020. A roundabout would force drivers to slow down while crossing the intersection, likely reducing the number of incidents.
Students often cross the intersection, which sits at the base of the hill on which the Kenyon sign stands, to reach the BFEC on the other side, despite the fact that there is no crosswalk. Due to the large number of pedestrians in Gambier, the Village would also like to include sidewalks and bike paths along the roundabout, according to Village Administrator R.C. Wise.
Village officials have considered other options to reduce the number of accidents at the intersection, such as the addition of a traffic light. However, ODOT determined that the traffic light proposal did not meet its criteria.
In preparation for the project, the College rejected the idea of a retaining wall, which would turn the slope near the proposed roundabout into a wall. “[The College and the Village’s] collective preference is [that] a natural-looking slope be constructed without a retaining wall,” Wise said.
Currently, the Village is waiting for ODOT to determine whether it would be achievable to narrow the rock slope by the intersection — instead of adding a wall — to allow for the construction of a roundabout. “ODOT has told us they will engage their geotechnical team to continue studying that option to make sure it can be done in the manner we prefer. We expect the Stage Two plans to be submitted back to us by mid-May. We should know then if our first choice is feasible,” Wise said at last month’s Village Council meeting.
Acting President Jeff Bowman supports the idea of a roundabout. “[The Village, ODOT and the College] have weighed several different plans and are moving toward a plan that will make the intersections safer while maintaining the rural character of the landscape,” he said.
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