Poe and Main light back at work – a bit of good road construction news

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Finally, something has gone right for Bowling Green and its increasing clogs of road construction. The traffic light at North Main and Poe roads is functioning – after fears that it might have been out of service for weeks after a car crash took out the traffic light control panel on Tuesday morning. As of early this afternoon, the light is back. “This is good news,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said. “It’s gone from a four-way stop to functioning as it was before.” The city’s electric division spent long hours Tuesday and early this morning trying to program a replacement computer control box. But to no avail, Fawcett said. So crews located another control box and gave that a try – with success. The custom built control boxes cost about $100,000 each, so the city does not have spares on hand, Fawcett explained on Tuesday. It was feared the intersection may have had to function as a four-way stop for weeks until a control box was located that would work. “The city appreciates the public’s patience and understanding,” Fawcett said. This is the year of heavy road construction in Bowling Green – with East Wooster Street at Interstate 75 torn up for roundabout construction, and Main Street torn up in the downtown for water and sewer work. Twice last week, construction had to stop downtown after a waterline was struck one day, and a natural gas line the next day.

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By outsourcing shuttle, BGSU looking to save $1 million over five years

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University has announced plans to partner with Groome Transportation to provide campus shuttle services in an effort to reduce costs, create efficiencies and provide a new fleet of buses for users. The initiative is one of the ways BGSU is responding to the Governor’s Task Force on Affordability and Efficiency, which requires state institutions of higher education to look for ways to continue offering a high-quality education while decreasing costs. “BGSU has a strong history of partnering with private companies to increase efficiency and improve services for our students. This initiative is no exception,” said BGSU Interim President Rodney Rogers. “Collaborations like these allow us to concentrate on our core mission of educating students.” Additional University partnerships include those with Chartwells, which provides dining services; Wood County Hospital, which operates the Falcon Health Center; and the Bowling Green Flight Center, which provides flight instruction. BGSU’s current fleet of buses will require nearly $250,000 in new equipment replacement and maintenance costs over the next two years. The shuttle service operated at a deficit in fiscal year 17. As part of this agreement, Groome Transportation will bring a new fleet of BGSU-branded buses to campus, helping to reduce the University’s operating costs. Employment opportunities will be offered to existing staff members who meet Groome’s hiring requirements. At BGSU’s request, the company is exploring possible changes to its hiring policy to permit drivers to be under age 25. If that is not possible, the University will work with the approximately seven student drivers who would be displaced to find them other employment on campus. “Ohio House Bill 64 requires institutions to develop and implement a plan that will provide undergraduate students the opportunity to reduce their cost of earning a degree by 5 percent,” said Sheri Stoll, BGSU’s chief financial officer and vice president for finance and administration. “We continually look for ways to keep a BGSU education affordable for Ohio’s students and their families.” Following an RFP process, the University entered into negotiations with Groome Transportation, which provides services to several large, public universities across the country. By entering into this partnership, which is expected to begin July 1, current projections indicate savings of $200,000-$250,000 annually, more than $1 million over the five-year term.

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, ADA accessibility, and an attractive design that reflects the historic nature of City Park. The bonds will pay for the demolition of the old buildings, plus clearing and improving the site, constructing, furnishing and equipping a new building, including landscaping, paving an entry drive and parking lot, and building a patio. The park building project is expected to start late summer of 2018. Council also authorized the municipal administrator to enter into contracts for architectural and design services for the new building. Otley has previously stressed that the park levy passed by Bowling Green voters last year included money to pay off the bonds for this building project. “We are not asking people for additional money for this project,” she said. Construction of the new…

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 from the Transportation Research Board’s Airport Cooperative Research Program focused on developing research into the use of incentives by airports and communities to attract and retain air service. It aims to provide information and guidance to help communities and even major airports get and keep passenger routes. Before this study, he was part of another CRD project looking at the economic impact of air service at small and non-hub airports on their communities, also funded by a $300,000 grant from the Transportation Research Board of the ACRP. That study resulted in recommendations of strategies for retaining air service at these smaller airports. Wood County Regional Airport is busier these days as BGSU’s flight training program continues to expand. Eighty-eight freshmen were enrolled last year, and…

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. “We’re pretty fortunate that ODOT is picking up the cost of these.”

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.