Road work

Long, hard road – city bike commission recommends sharrows and bike lanes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The city’s Bicycle Safety Commission peddled a report Monday evening that may result in more bike sharrows being imprinted onto pavement, and bike lanes being added to some streets. After years of the community spinning wheels, Steve Langendorfer and his commission met with City Council’s Transportation and Safety Committee to present infrastructure that could make bicyclists more comfortable and more likely to use city streets. The city has already worked with Yay Bikes, an education program helping bicyclists learn their responsibilities and their rights on roadways. Education is the least expensive step to encourage bicycling in Bowling Green. “Bike riders are as entitled to the road as cars,” Langendorfer said. However, education only goes so far – and reasonably priced and rationally prioritized infrastructure may be the next step. Langendorfer presented the council committee with lists of city streets where sharrows would be helpful for bicyclists. Sharrows, the icons that look like bikes and arrows, have already been applied to portions of Fairview and Conneaut avenues. They are a much less expensive solution than actual bike lanes. With fiscal and physical limitations in mind, the Bicycle Safety Commission recommended adding sharrows to the following north-south streets in the city: North and South Wintergarden Road, from Poe to Sand Ridge.North and South Maple Street, from Conneaut to Sand Ridge.Fairview Avenue, north of Poe (south of Poe already has sharrows.)North and South Grove Street, from Poe to Sand Ridge.North and South Church Street, from Clay to Sand Ridge, and Kenwood Avenue, from Sand Ridge to Napoleon.North and South Prospect Street, and/or North and South Enterprise, from Poe to Lehman.Thurstin Avenue, from Poe to East Wooster, and Manville Avenue, from East Wooster to East Napoleon.North College Avenue, south of Poe Road, and South College Avenue, from Main to Napoleon. Sharrows were also recommended for the following east-west city streets: West and East Newton Road, from Community Center to North College Avenue.Frazee Avenue, west of North College.East Merry Avenue, from Thurstin to Mercer Road.Clay and East Ridge, from Main to Mercer.West Wooster Street from Wintergarden to Haskins…

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County steers toward $5 license fee for roads, bridges

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Engineer John Musteric is tired of just spinning his wheels on endless road and bridge repairs. So on Thursday, he asked the Wood County Commissioners to consider tacking on another $5 permissive license plate fee to raise money for road and bridge maintenance. The commissioners seemed open to the proposal. “He’s done his homework,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said. “Our roads and bridges do need some attention.” The commissioners will be required to hold two public hearings before they make a decision on the permissive license fee. But Commissioner Craig LaHote said he believes most local residents already know the county’s infrastructure needs help. “People realize the roads are in bad shape,” he said. Musteric and the commissioners looked at a map of county roads – with several of the routes colored red or orange, indicating serious or poor road conditions. “We’re never catching up,” Musteric told the commissioners. “We do all these studies of where we should put our money. You try to spend your money where the most people will benefit from it.” The county engineer feels his office is in a Catch-22 situation. What’s the use of spending money to fix bridges, he said, “if you’ve got crappy roads going to them?” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said state and federal government have “no appetite” for raising gas taxes themselves. And the revenue brought in by gas taxes isn’t growing to meet expenses, since more fuel-efficient cars mean less gas is needed to traverse the state. “It makes the revenue generated remain flat,” Kalmar said. The proposed $5 increase is projected to bring in an additional $632,660 annually for road and bridge repairs. Musteric pledged to the commissioners that the additional funds would be used only on capital expenses, not on personnel or operating costs. Currently the state registration fee is $34.50, and the local permissive fees are between $15 and $20, depending on the community. The Ohio General Assembly has authorized the additional $5 fee. “They recognized the stagnant funding of local transportation systems and that counties…


Portable scales may be used to deter overweight trucks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County officials tired of roads being beat up by overweight trucks may start using portable scales to snag those heavy loads. Wood County Engineer John Musteric and Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn made a pitch to the county commissioners Thursday morning about setting up an overweight vehicle permit program using scales that can easily be transported throughout the county. The goal isn’t to make money off of permits and fines, Musteric said, but rather to discourage heavy trucks from breaking up county roads. Overweight truck traffic is increasing on interstates, so it’s only natural that to reach their destinations, those trucks have to use smaller county and township roads. While most trucking companies get permits with ODOT for overweight loads, they often neglect to get permits at the local level, Musteric said. Last year, Ohio issued 367,332 permits for overweight trucks. When detailing their routes, those trucking companies identified 46,034 loads that traveled through Wood County. Yet only 57 permits were issues for Wood County, Musteric said. The legal limit on Ohio roads is 80,000 pounds. Some of the heavy trucks weigh as much as 165,000 pounds. “Some of those people aren’t going to be happy,” Wasylyshyn said. Permits can be purchased per truck, per route traveled. “If they get off that route, and they get nailed, they pay hefty fines,” Musteric said. But Musteric stressed the goal isn’t to make money, but to control which roads overweight trucks travel. “Believe me, this is not a money grab for us,” he told the commissioners. The county’s roads and bridges are in “dire straits” and suffer from heavy loads. So part of the permitting program will be educational – with efforts made to direct overweight traffic to more suitable routes. The sheriff and engineer suggested that Wood County use portable scales as part of that educational process. “ODOT has three portable scales just waiting to be used, at no cost,” Musteric said. Construction of the Rover pipeline across southern Wood County has taught the engineer’s office a painful lesson, Musteric said. “Rover…


Wood County looking at rough roads and old bridges

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County’s got some rough roads ahead, not to mention some bridges long overdue on being replaced. Wood County Engineer John Musteric took his road show to the crowded courthouse atrium Tuesday for the State of the County address. “It’s not good,” he told the crowd. The county has 245 miles of roads to maintain, plus 441 bridges with an average age of 41 years. More than 20 bridges have passed the century mark, with the granddaddy of them all being the 133-year-old bridge on Custar Road south of Sand Ridge Road. “We’re way behind, way behind,” Musteric said. Musteric drew a quick road map for the audience. Nearly three-quarters of the county’s roads are rated marginal or lower. Nearly half of those are ranked as poor or serious. Bringing those roads up to fair condition would cost an estimated $39 million. The county engineer’s office is studying pavement preservation practices. The lifespan of average pavement is 25 years. To catch up, the county would need to pave 35 miles every year – costing about $10.3 million each year. Instead, the county is spending about $1.1 million a year on paving. The county roads and bridges are at a crisis, Musteric said after the public address. “We’ve been in a crisis mode for a long time. We’ve got so much to take care of and maintain.” The engineer’s office is planning to draw the line at paving roads that have crumbling culverts underneath. Since there are about 2,500 culverts in the county, that could add up to quite a few road miles. When it comes to bridges, the county plans to replace four this year, costing about $1.2 million. That is just a drop in the bucket, with 441 bridges in Wood County. More than half are over 50 years old, and 52 bridges are ranked in poor or worse shape. The cost to replace those 52 would add up to $20.8 million, Musteric said. At the pace the county is going, it would take 90 years to replace all the bridges….


BG moves ahead on roundabouts and City Park building

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green rounded out the year Thursday by approving steps for the city’s first roundabouts and a new building in City Park. During its final meeting of the year, City Council voted unanimously to issue a total of nearly $10 million in bonds to finance both projects. For the roundabouts, $6.2 million in bonds will be used to improve the Interstate 75 and East Wooster Street area by constructing rotary intersections. “This is a great piece of legislation to end the year on,” said council member Bruce Jeffers. The city has been working on the East Wooster improvements for years, he noted. Jeffers told Mayor Dick Edwards that he recently visited the community of Carmel, Indiana, which the mayor frequently points out as a community that knows how to use roundabouts. Carmel has 100 of the circular intersections. “The roundabouts are going to be great” in Bowling Green, Jeffers said. The project will add two roundabouts designed for semi-trucks at both I-75 interchanges on East Wooster Street. The bridge driving surface will be replaced, with a bike-pedestrian trail being added from Alumni Drive to Dunbridge Road along north side of Wooster Street. The plan calls for a landscaped gateway to be created to Bowling Green and Bowling Green State University. The goal is made the entrance to the city more attractive, create a smoother traffic flow and reduce accidents at the interchanges. Though utility work will begin in 2018, the bulk of the actual interchange and roadway work will take place in 2019. The bonds will help pay for the road widening, paving, resurfacing, grading, draining, constructing curbs, sidewalks and related drainage improvements, installing traffic signals and lighting, installing waterlines and sanitary sewers, and constructing a sanitary sewer pump station. The roundabout project is being worked on with the Ohio Department of Transportation. The current estimated cost for the entire project is more than $8.8 million. The city and utility portion of the project is approximately $6 million. An ODOT safety grant of $750,000 in addition to the ODOT share of the…


ODOT to spend $5 million to widen Route 582

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For a state route, Ohio 582 north of Bowling Green is uncommonly narrow. So the Ohio Department of Transportation has plans to fix that problem. But like so many issues, correcting one problem creates another. ODOT plans to widen 3.5 miles of Route 582 from Mercer Road in Middleton Township to about 1,000 feet east of Ohio 199 in Webster Township. While that project will be an improvement for motorists, the widening plan is causing some concerns for those who live along the roadway. But ODOT spokesperson Rebecca Shirling said some of the concerns are unfounded. The “myth” that ODOT will need to take the church in Dunbridge for the widening is false, she said. However, ODOT will need to take down one block commercial building near the intersection of Dunbridge Road, plus one house and two sheds further east on Route 582. A meeting was held earlier this year to explain the project to landowners along the route. Many had questions about the effect of the widening on their properties. “Once we explained it, most of the people were OK,” Shirling said. Another meeting was held this past week by a law firm that specializes in eminent domain law. Megan O’Neill, from the Krause & Kinsman Eminent Domain Law Firm, said about five landowners along Route 582 attended the meeting. They had concerns about the loss of their front yards and farmland, plus worries about construction so close to their homes. Because of the ditch on the south side of Route 582, most of the widening will take place on the north side of the roadway. “There’s essentially no shoulder on Route 582,” Shirling said. The lanes are 11 feet wide now, compared to the 12-foot standard for state routes. “For being a state route, it is pretty narrow,” she said. “It feels tight when you’re driving it,” with the guardrail right on the edge of the lane of travel. ODOT’s plan is to add four-foot shoulders on both sides of the road. Because of the ditch, most of that additional…


Sewer work to start on Gypsy Lane

The Northwestern Water and Sewer District has announced that effective Tuesday, September 12, and Wednesday, September 13, from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily, Gypsy Lane Road, between Rudolph Road and Sand Ridge Road will be closed for sewer maintenance.  Detour: Rudolph Road to Sand Ridge.  All work is weather permitting.