WEST CHESTER, OH (FOX19) - For the first time in two decades, big changes are coming to a busy interchange in West Chester that will transform the way traffic flows in the Union Centre area.
Crews will be reconstructing the highway interchange near Union Centre Boulevard and Muhlhauser Road.
On average, officials believe more than 45,000 vehicles travel through the interchange in one day. Constructed in 1997, the interchange is a popular place to get on and off the highway, which often leads to heavy traffic near the Interstate 75 south and I-75 north on and off ramps.
West Chester officials believe it is because the Union Centre area has been growing. In the past two decades, they said they have seen more than $2 billion invested in the area and nearly 26,000 new jobs. The growth is what inspired Butler County engineers to come up with a new traffic plan for the interchange, called a “diverging diamond interchange,” or a DDI.
The Ohio Department of Transportation, or ODOT, has experience with DDIs.
“It eliminates the chance that you’re going to get T-Boned," said Matt Bruning, ODOT’s Press Secretary. "You come across the highway. There will be a signal. You go left through that signal, which puts the traffic on the left side of the roadway. Then, if you want to make that left hand turn, you’re not turning across traffic. Then, there’s another signal that allows you to cross back on the other side of the highway.”
The $13 million project will be the third constructed in the state of Ohio. One DDI exists in Perrysburg. The other is in Franklin County.
“Before (the Franklin County) interchange was in place, there were eleven left turn crashes at that same location in 2012. Fast forward to 2015, and all of them have been eliminated," said Bruning.
ODOT reps said there is always concern for driver confusion, but they believe that any initial issues will quickly be resolved with a little practice and a little patience. They believe the strengths of the design, like simplified turns and safer streets, outweigh any weaknesses.
“When you look at the design, it can look, on the surface, a little confusing, but honestly when you drive these, it makes total sense, and you think why don’t we have more of these to be honest," said Bruning.
The project will include new lanes, a path for pedestrians, new fencing and landscaping.
Construction is set to begin in the spring. Drivers can expect some delays and closures as the project progresses.