County to weigh in on overweight truck permits and fees

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The Wood County Engineer’s Office would like heavy truck traffic to stay on roads that can handle their loads. So starting Jan. 1, those overloaded trucks may need to get a permit and pay a fee to the engineer’s office. Those haulers will also be advised to use a route that can handle heavy loads. “If they haul the right weights, they don’t need permits,” said Wood County Engineer John Musteric. “We just want them to be law abiding citizens.” And the county commissioners – who have to vote on the permit fees – seemed to agree. “I think it’s a good step toward preserving our roads and bridges,” said Commissioner Craig LaHote. Commissioner Doris Herringshaw wanted to ensure that the fees would go toward road repairs, not salaries – which Musteric confirmed. The goal of the overweight vehicle permit program is to protect county roads and bridges from damage. Overweight vehicles that travel state routes are required to obtain a permit from the Ohio Department of Transportation. These same overweight vehicles that travel state routes legally, then exit onto county and township roads with no permits or regard for the capacity of the roads or bridges. “This is to protect our assets,” Musteric said. “We’re spending a lot of money to improve these roads and bridges.” For those trucks suspected to have overweight loads and no permit, the county’s portable scales will be requested by a sheriff’s deputy. An engineer’s office employee will deliver the scales and advise the trucker on a suitable route for their load. By requiring permits and fees, the engineer’s office can discuss appropriate routes before the overweight loads start crossing county roads. “If you’re coming through, we need to set the best route. That permit protects them if they stay on that route,” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said. But if an overweight truck is found without a permit, or not on the permitted route, fines will be issued. The county learned a hard lesson from the Rover pipeline construction in the southern part of the county, Musteric said at a previous meeting. “Rover tore the heck out of the roads,” he said. Loads exceeding 80,000 pounds will need a permit and fee payment to the county engineer’s office. Heavier loads, equal to or greater than 120,000 pounds, will be considered “superloads,” as defined by ODOT. Those loads may incur additional requirements and greater fees. “Superloads” will have restricted routes, with the engineering office needing to certify that bridges along the routes can handle the weights. Applications submitted less than 48 hours in advance of the requested move date will be considered an emergency request, and will be processed as staff time allows. Some haulers are able to spread the weight of their loads over many axles, which means less damage to…

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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 project at $1.7 million adds up to $2.47 million toward the cost. The Wood County Commissioners also kicked in $300,000 for the project. Also at Thursday’s meeting, council approved the sale of $3.75 million in bonds to tear down three old buildings and construct a new one in City Park. “This is great news,” Kristin Otley, director of the city park and recreation department, said after the meeting. “We’re excited. We’ll get working on it.” The buildings being demolished are the Veterans Building, Girl Scout Building and Depot Building, all near the entrance of City Park. It was determined that the old buildings were not work sinking renovation dollars into. The buildings will be replaced with one larger building with adequate space for programming, storage,…

BGSU’s Russell Mills to join Ohio Aviation Association board

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University Associate Professor Russell W. Mills, Ph.D. has been elected to the Board of Directors of the  Ohio Aviation Association, the association  announced Dec. 13. “This organization is the voice of aviation in the state of Ohio,” said Mills, an associate professor of  aviation studies and  political science and the director of strategic initiatives for Bowling Green State University’s aviation program, which is a partnership with North Star Aviation. He is one of only two OAA board members from academia. “This is a very active, working board, and I enjoy being part of the association,” Mills said. He was asked to join by past president Greg Heaton, who was familiar with him from Mills’ former position as a policy analyst with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Since becoming involved with the OAA, he has served on the education committee and will now serve as vice chair of the advocacy committee. The nonprofit Ohio Aviation Association comprises airport managers and directors, educational institutions and consultants in addition to representatives from companies that provide support to aviation such as construction contractors and equipment providers and others. It serves to advocate for all the Ohio airports, from smaller regional ones like Wood County Regional Airport to the larger, international ones like Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, and raise Ohio’s awareness of the importance of aviation to the state — which is “the birthplace of aviation,” Mills said. “We would like to increase our contact with state legislators and eventually create a statewide incentive program to support our commercial airports,” Mills said. “Along with advocacy, we also provide professional development for our members.” His membership in the OAA will benefit aviation students back at BGSU, whom he will take to the association’s annual conference, where they can meet representatives from airports and airlines. “We hope to get more students interested in a career in aviation,” Mills said, noting that the United States industry has a growing need for everyone from pilots to aviation engineers to airport managers to skilled airplane mechanics. In January, he will also be taking a group of BGSU aviation students to Washington, D.C., for the Aviation Policy Seminar hosted by the University Aviation Association, attended by representatives from Congress, the FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board, industry groups and others. Mills has an extensive background in the field, beginning with his college career. Before his FAA employment, he received a master of public administration degree from the University of Vermont and was an air service development consultant for Burlington (Vermont) International Airport. His Ph.D. dissertation from Kent State University was on the use of voluntary reporting programs by the FAA. At BGSU, Mills is also a research fellow at the Center for Regional Development, where he is leading a project funded by an 18-month, $325,000 grant…

Four pedestrian crosswalks being added to East Wooster

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   BGSU students crossing East Wooster Street will have to worry less about dodging traffic – and motorists will have to be on their toes to not miss the four new crosswalks being added to the street. Four pedestrian crosswalks are being installed on East Wooster Street – one by the Stroh Center, and three between the traffic lights at Manville and South College avenues. A pedestrian safety study was conducted in the fall of 2015 around the Bowling Green State University campus, to identify locations that may need marked crosswalks. “They took all likely crossing points,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said. “Our goal is to ensure everybody can cross the road.” The four crosswalks, costing a combined total of $489,191, are being paid for entirely by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Though there will be three crosswalks in a very short distance between the existing crosswalks at Manville and South College streets, Fawcett said the study did not foresee any resulting traffic congestion on East Wooster Street. “They incorporated the traffic counts in their studies,” he said. The construction going on now on East Wooster is the underground infrastructure needed, plus markings and signage. Plans call for the signals to be installed early next year. There are two different types of crosswalks being installed. Both types are new to Bowling Green. Two will be more traditional crosswalks with “refuge islands” in the middle of the street. The other two will be pedestrian hybrid beacons. The two pedestrian islands, which will have 6-inch high curbs, will be located in the middle of East Wooster Street – one near Founders residence hall (just east of Manville Avenue) and the other just west of the Falcon Health Center. They will be installed this year. The refuge islands in the middle will allow pedestrians to only worry about traffic from one direction at a time. “The goal for the island is to give a person an opportunity to maximize their safety,” Fawcett said. The two pedestrian hybrid beacons will be installed at the Stroh Center and across from McFall Center (just east of Troup Street.) The beacons, which remain passive unless a pedestrian wishes to cross, are activated by a push button. Once pushed, the yellow lights start flashing, followed by red lights to stop traffic. The lights remain red for the amount of time expected for pedestrians to cross the street. Once the lights are no longer red, traffic may resume. The pedestrian hybrid beacons will be completed in early 2018. Motorists who drive through the crossings while the red lights are shining can be cited for violating a traffic control device, similar to a stoplight violation. “It’s a very good example of a collaborative effort between BGSU, the city and ODOT, working on a common goal,” Fawcett said….

County gives BG $300,000 for roundabouts at I-75

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Commissioners have kicked in $300,000 for roundabouts being planned at the Interstate 75 interchange in Bowling Green. The commissioners presented the check Thursday morning to Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards. “I know these decisions aren’t easy to come by, with all the competing demands” for funding, Edwards said to the commissioners. But Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said the impact of the interchange improvements will reach beyond Bowling Green. “It’s important for all of us,” she said. The roundabouts planned for the interchange on East Wooster Street are intended to make traffic move more smoothly and reduce accidents. Work on the necessary infrastructure for the project will begin in 2018, according to Bowling Green Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter. The actual road paving work is planned for 2019, she said. “It’s got a lot of moving parts,” Tretter said of the project. Edwards thanked the commissioners for their “spirit of collaboration.” “We appreciate you recognizing the import of this,” he said, referring to Bowling Green as the capital of Wood County. “We do have this very important corridor coming in off 75. This will make a huge difference.” The improvements are even more needed with the expansion of the Wood Bridge industrial park off Dunbridge Road, the mayor said. “We do work together really well in Wood County,” Herringshaw said. “We actually communicate and talk about our issues, and solve our issues.” Bowling Green Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said the local share is due to the Ohio Department of Transportation in the spring. The current projected total local share for the road work and utility work is $5,150,000; $3,450,000 for the road work and $1,700,000 for the utility work. The overall cost for the project is $7,700,000. ODOT is contributing $2,250,000 and the county has contributed $300,000. A bond will be sold to finance this project and will be paid back over a 20-year period.  The timing of the county’s contribution is important, Fawcett said, because the process for selling this bond will begin within the next month or so – starting with accounting for how much money is needed, developing the bond retirement schedule, and the necessary city legislation to do all of this. More roundabouts are proposed for East Wooster Street at the intersections at Dunbridge Road and at Campbell Hill Road. The city is still waiting for word on grant funding for those projects.

Roundabout eyed for Campbell Hill – Napoleon Road

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   East Wooster Street in Bowling Green may not be the only route in the area steering for roundabouts. Wood County Engineer John Musteric has asked for a safety study to be conducted at the intersection of Napoleon Road and Campbell Hill Road – just on the east side of Bowling Green. The Wood County Commissioners agreed to the study, which will be conducted by Poggemeyer Design Group. According to Musteric, the Campbell Hill-Napoleon intersection was identified on a list compiled by the Ohio County Engineers Association as one of the worst intersections in the region for accidents. Other Wood County intersections have made the list in the past, including Hull Prairie and Roachton, which now has a roundabout, and several on Oregon Road between Ohio 795 and the city of Northwood. A roundabout is currently being considered for the intersection of First Street and Oregon Road, Musteric said. In the city of Bowling Green, roundabouts are planned at East Wooster’s intersections with Interstate 75, Dunbridge Road and Campbell Hill Road. Now it appears there may be one more roundabout, just on the outer edge of the city. During the past three years, Musteric said the Campbell Hill-Napoleon crossing has been the site of about 45 accidents. Most have involved property damage and none have been fatal crashes, he said. “There have been a lot of accidents there,” he said. It doesn’t seem to be a matter of visibility, and the county has added signage. But that doesn’t seem to have helped. “People are stopping at Campbell Hill and then they pull out thinking the Napoleon traffic will stop,” Musteric said. So a traffic study will be conducted, in hopes of the county getting some funding for a possible roundabout. A four-way stop could be placed at the intersection, but then there will be more rear-end collisions, he said. “The state is more than willing to give money away for safety,” Musteric said. “These roundabouts reduce accidents by 76 percent.” The traffic study will likely be completed by the end of this year. “We definitely want it done while school is open,” he said. The results will be used to help the county pay for improvements. “We can use that to apply for grant money,” Musteric said. However, the county engineer said some type of agreement will likely be needed between the county and the city before the work is done. “If the county puts $1 million in this, we don’t want that area annexed into the city without getting some of our money back,” he said.  

Citizens sound off on East Wooster corridor plans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Citizens got to heap compliments and complaints earlier this week on Bowling Green’s plans to recreate its image from the interstate. Giant drawings showed plans for roundabouts at I-75 and East Wooster Street, a walk- and bike-path along Wooster, and a new decorative look to the bridge over the interstate. “It’s beautiful. I think it’s going to organize traffic in and out of the city,” and prevent accidents in the process, said Brandon Welsh, operations manager at Best Western on East Wooster Street. The project will add two roundabouts designed for semi-trucks at both Interstate 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. Though utility work will begin in 2018, the bulk of the actual interchange and roadway work will take place in 2019. ”I’m very excited about the new pedestrian improvements,” said Chris Frey, who lives close to downtown but said he would use the bikeway along East Wooster to the Meijer store. “I’m looking forward to it. I’d be very happy to ride my bicycle to the store.” The more accommodations the city can make for bicyclists and pedestrians, the better, Frey said. “We don’t have a culture of stopping for pedestrians.” But that may come, he added. Dawn McCaghy also liked the addition of 10-foot wide bike and pedestrian lane over I-75 that will be made possible by one of the westbound vehicle lanes being eliminated. “I like the pedestrian and bicycle pathway,” she said. “We see students walking on the roadway all the time.” As far as the roundabouts, McCaghy admitted a little apprehension. “I guess I’m sort of neutral, but I know I’ll have some trouble at first.” Her husband, Charles McCaghy, noted that roundabouts work successful in so many other places. “Once people get used to them, they’ll say, ‘How did we every get on without them?’” he said. “We’re not exactly breaking ground.” One woman expressed concern that the roundabouts will be difficult to navigate, and asked if they will be smallish like the rotary in front of Terra Tech in Fremont. Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft said that the roundabout in front of Terra Tech is “too small,” and the Bowling Green ones will be much larger. “They are designed for truck traffic,” he said. Dale Calcamuggio, transportation administrator with the Ohio Department of Transportation, said he expects motorists to quickly adapt to the roundabouts. “I think so, absolutely,” he said. He mentioned the roundabout near Anthony Wayne, at the corner of Ohio 64 and Fintel. “It took a bit of time, but people get used…