NAPOLEON — Traffic is down on Ohio’s highways, but fatalities have risen over the past two years, according to an Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) official who addressed Henry County commissioners Thursday.
ODOT District 2 Director Pat McColley and other agency officials met with commissioners for an update on that topic and other road-related matters.
McColley informed commissioners that truck traffic on Ohio roads is up 13% this year compared to 2019 levels, but car traffic is down 8%. Nevertheless, he explained, statewide traffic fatalities have increased 7% over the same period.
“So, that’s concerning,” he told commissioners.
Breaking things down further, McColley noted that pedestrian fatalities are up 30%, those at intersections have risen 33% and fatal crashes involving motorcycles have increased 23%.
Commenting on the possible reasons for this, McColley cited speed, and distracted driving.
“I think people got more attached to their phones in the pandemic, and they’re less likely to put them down,” he said.
According to McColley, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is pushing for a distracted driving legislation.
“... the trend nationwide of fatalities is going up in almost every state,” said McColley. “The ones (states) where they’ve gone down is where they’ve introduced a distracted driving bill.”
McColley and ODOT officials who attended Thursday’s meeting also touched on a couple of upcoming projects planned in Henry County and general road maintenance efforts.
Among the projects is rebuilding U.S. 6 near Ridgeville Corners, between Ohio 34 and the Henry-Williams County line. The project cost is $5.8 million.
A 75-day closure will be required, perhaps beginning in mid-July.
Another project is installation of a rectangular rapid flashing beacon on Ohio 109 at Cherry Street in Liberty Center to provide for a crosswalk.
Meanwhile, ODOT is working on a feasibility study about possible improvements to U.S. 24, between Domersville Road in Defiance County and U.S. 6/Woodlawn Avenue in Napoleon.
And design work is scheduled this year for a traffic roundabout for the U.S. 24 westbound ramp at Ohio 108 in north Napoleon. Construction is expected in 2023.
In other business Thursday, commissioners:
• passed a resolution approving a service contact between Henry County Job and Family Services and Adriel Schools Inc. for family preservation programming services from July 1, 2021-June 6, 2022. The cost will range from $47-$50 per hour.
• approved a resolution confirming Stacy Williams as the new Henry County Community Improvement Corporation’s administrative assistant. She replaces Jennifer Arps who became the CIC director earlier this year.