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Published: Sunday, 7/6/2003

Upgrades won't stop plans for new U.S. 24, state says

Could a new traffic signal at U.S. 24 and State Rt. 578 in Providence Township solve the safety issues behind the drive for a new U.S. 24 expressway between metro Toledo and Napoleon? U.S. 24 opponents certainly hoped so.

“A major victory” was how FARMUP (Farming Americans Resisting More Unneeded Pavement) classified the Ohio Department of Transportation's finding last month that a signal is indeed justified at the intersection just north of the Grand Rapids Bridge.

“FARMUP is pleased that ODOT is finally realizing it can make major improvements to existing U.S. 24 rather than the minor projects they've implemented in the past,” Steve Kendall, the organization's spokesman, said in a statement.

Providence Township trustees requested the signal study at FARMUP's request.

“FARMUP will continue to attempt to convince ODOT to implement other major improvements, like turn lanes and additional through lanes, to improve safety and capacity on existing U.S. 24 as the alternative to relocating the road,” Mr. Kendall said.

Not so fast, said the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Neither the planned stoplight, nor any other improvement to the existing road, should be construed as a change in course regarding the new roadway, said Joe Rutherford, a spokesman at ODOT's district office in Bowling Green.

“The traffic signal at 24 and 578 in no way changes our goal, which is to build a new U.S. 24 on the preferred alignment that has been selected,” Mr. Rutherford said. Until the new road is built, he said, “we're doing what we can to improve safety” on the existing road.

And once a new U.S. 24 opens, the signal now planned for the existing road at Route 578 could be taken down if, as expected, traffic volume through the intersection declines.

“It will depend on how much traffic continues to use the existing route,” Mr. Rutherford said.

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