By JD Prewitt Staff Writer
The city of Oxford held an open house Wednesday to judge the public’s opinion on the possible re-routing of trucks traveling through Oxford on Route 27.
In August 2008, the city council requested the corridor be evaluated for improved pedestrian safety and traffic flow along with a comprehensive traffic, safety and impact study, according to a memorandum from City Manager Doug Elliott.
After three years and a federal funding earmark, the project is starting to get off the ground.
Keith Smith, environmental engineer with the Ohio Department of Transportation, said the meeting’s purpose was “to gauge the will of the public to see whether or not to proceed with the reroute of US 27 within Oxford.”
The open house allowed Oxford citizens the opportunity to see the results of the pedestrian and vehicular traffic studies and the two potential reroute design plans.
While both include displacing traffic from High Street to Chestnut Street, the first plan involves funneling vehicles through Main Street up to Church Street.
The second includes the use of Locust Street straight to Route 27, both of which offer the least amount of pedestrian traffic throughout the city, but are also causing a stir within the Oxford community.
“I think their goal is good, something needs to be done but I don’t particularly agree with the situation,” Oxford resident Don Dawley said.
Resident George Robd sees a fiscal discrepancy with the new route designs.
“It’s a good idea if you can engineer a solution but I don’t think there’s the money for it,” Robd said.
The city council’s proposed price of the project is set at $1.5 to $2.2 million but this estimate does not include right-of-way acquisition or utility relocation costs, according to the council.
The total estimated cost presented at the open house, which accounts for intersection and pavement upgrades, roadway widening and on-street parking changes, is between $2 million and $5 million.
With a projected 600 vehicles being rerouted per day, the chief goal of the project is to limit the amount of pedestrian interface with trucks. Thirty percent of these trucks do not have a required stop in Oxford and are merely passing through, according to Smith. As of now, the accident rates along the 10 intersections within the Route 27 stretch are above state averages.
While there was a plan to simply create a connector route around the city, township residents refused the idea.
Vehicles would be “traveling through farm land and pristine areas and it wouldn’t solve the problem of trucks passing through Oxford,” Smith said.
Regardless, the proposed sites already meet federal roadway regulations and would involve the least amount of improvement, according to the council.
The next steps are for the city and ODOT to conduct environmental reviews and start preliminary engineering.