Possible changes to U.S. 24 between Defiance and Napoleon were the subject of a meeting held via electronic means Wednesday afternoon by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).
A presentation by the consulting firm TranSystems — headquartered in Kansas City, Mo. — was the focus of the meeting, attended by ODOT and local officials.
The list of ideas under consideration to improve safety along the 11-mile stretch of U.S. 24 between Domersville Road northeast of Defiance and Woodlawn Avenue in Napoleon includes:
• constructing an interchange at Henry County Road 17D, just west of Napoleon.
• building overpasses at Independence Road in Defiance County and County Road P in Henry County.
• closing intersections in Defiance County at Jewell, Flory and Banner School roads, and in Henry County at County Road 17 and Township Road 16.
• constructing three new connector roads in Defiance County between the closed intersections. Connectors running between Independence and Flory roads, and between Flory and Egler roads would be built south of U.S. 24 while the connector road proposed between Banner School and Defiance-Henry County Line roads would be constructed north of U.S. 24.
• building a connector road between roads 16 and P in Henry County on the south side of U.S. 24.
According to TranSystem’s Aaron Grilliot, the estimated cost of the above changes is $41 million. The Henry County Road 17D interchange alone — considered the first phase and the “priority project” — is $18 million, he said.
The interchange project is tentatively targeted for 2026, Grilliot stated.
“As funding becomes available,” he continued, the other improvements would be phased in and undertaken at some future date.”
Intersections would not be closed until the connectors are completed, according to ODOT.
Grilliot indicated that the ongoing study was prompted by safety concerns.
He noted that 80 crashes occurred in that stretch from 2017-2019 with 40% resulting in “some sort of injury whether minor, serious or a fatality.” Six fatals occurred along with seven serious injuries during that time, he said. One third of the crashes occurred at the eight intersections.
During an interview Wednesday before the meeting, Defiance County Engineer Warren Schlatter expressed concern about closing all the access points in Defiance County mentioned above. He is suggesting that ODOT keep open the intersections at Flory and Jewell roads in Defiance County with right-in, right-out only connections.
“If they made that modification to their study we are in support of moving forwards as quickly as we can,” said Schlatter.