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Published: Friday, 9/6/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

ODOT seeks to cut U.S. 24 crashes in Paulding Co.

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
An ODOT rendering shows planned striping at U.S. 24 intersections in Paulding County. The dashed lines are intended to help drivers know where to stop as they cross U.S. 24. An ODOT rendering shows planned striping at U.S. 24 intersections in Paulding County. The dashed lines are intended to help drivers know where to stop as they cross U.S. 24.
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CECIL, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Transportation plans to add new striping this month at seven intersections along the U.S. 24 expressway in Paulding County in hopes of eliminating crashes involving vehicles stopped between the opposing lanes.

Officials at ODOT’s Lima district office said the new dashed stripes are a product of discussions with federal officials, the Ohio Highway Patrol, and the Paulding County commissioners and sheriff’s office about a series of crashes at U.S. 24 intersections.

“We analyzed the accidents to see if any additional roadway improvements could be made to increase safety,” said Kirk Slusher, ODOT’s district deputy director in Lima.

That study, he said, showed that in several cases motorists failed to stop safely in the median after crossing one direction of traffic, leaving them in a position to be hit by traffic approaching on the other side.

“We felt that adding a dashed edge line across the median crossover areas would perhaps provide motorists a visual reference as to where the median areas are,” Mr. Slusher said. “Better defining these areas may provide motorists with greater assurance they are squarely within a safe zone while waiting for traffic to clear before proceeding to cross or turn into traffic.”

The stripes will be added to the U.S. 24 intersections at Paulding County roads 21, 87, 115, 232, 133, and 143, and Crane Township Road 83.

“Any improvement to enhance the safety of the U.S. 24 corridor is greatly appreciated,” said Fred Pieper, a Paulding County commissioner.

The U.S. 24 expressway in Paulding County opened in November, 2008. Since then, crashes at its intersections have included at least two fatalities.

Ronald C. Roth, 63, of Paulding died Sept. 17, 2010, at the County Road 87 intersection when his pickup truck pulled out from the side road into the path of another pickup that was headed west on U.S. 24. And at 8 a.m. on Feb. 5, Ashley A. Messmann, 28, also of Paulding, died when her northbound SUV was hit by a tank truck that was eastbound on U.S. 24.

The more recent crash triggered seven other collisions involving 14 other vehicles as their drivers tried to avoid the wreckage. Nine injured people were treated at nearby hospitals.

ODOT officials said similar stripes already have been painted at U.S. 24 intersections between Napoleon and Defiance. Nearby farmers requested the stripes so they would know if their trailers were clear of U.S. 24’s travel lanes when they stopped in the highway’s median while crossing or making left turns, said Rhonda Pees, a spokesman at the Lima office.

The stretch of four-lane U.S. 24 between Napoleon and Waterville that opened last year was built without intersections.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.



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