Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens’ office is constructing four new roundabouts this year and he said two of them, totaling $3.9 million, won’t require any local money, which leaves funds for more roadwork.
The largest is $2.4 million to install a new roundabout at Wayne Madison and Trenton roads at the outskirts of Trenton. The engineer’s office, the city, the state and federal funds were supposed to back the project. Federal and Ohio Public Works Commission money will fully fund the project. The local share was originally $519,662 each for the county and Trenton.
“The roundabout came in small enough that the local share is going to be zero on both counts,” Wilkens said. “Because we ended up getting federal funds matched by OPWC funding, and one offset the other as a match. We like it that way.”
Wilkens said the cost of the project was high because they needed to navigate around the CSX Railroad tracks at that intersection.
“You put a train in there and 500 feet can back traffic up, and if it backs into the roundabout then the roundabout becomes non-functional,” Wilkens said. “We had to design around that, we had to put a warning signal up to keep people from entering the roundabout and circle around and jam it up. So it’s a little more complex than our normal roundabout.”
Wilkens said roundabout projects usually take four or five months to build but since they cannot completely shut down the intersection, construction will likely stretch into next year.
Trenton Treasurer Mike Engel said it was great news the city doesn’t have to pay a local match and even better news the dangerous intersection will be fixed. He said people speed around turning drivers as if there were turn lanes when there aren’t which is dangerous. Trains also cause traffic jams in all directions.
“It’s just a mess...,” Engel said. “We’re really looking forward to that roundabout, I think it’s going to help a lot.”
Wilkens said another major roundabout project is at Butler Warren and West Chester roads, the total $1.49-million improvement will be paid with state and federal money. The estimate was $1.7 million. Wilkens said it was a “pleasant surprise” no local match was necessary, but cautioned the projects aren’t exactly free.
“The taxpayers are still paying for it, just not locally,” Wilkens said. “We’re all paying for it.”
There is another Butler Warren Road roundabout project at Barret Road, also in West Chester Township. This one is a joint project with the city of Mason. The price came in at $1.67 million, federal funding covered 80% at $1.3 million and the county and Mason each will pay $166,900.
“Folks on the eastern side of the township know Butler Warren can be a bit of a bear to travel on and hopefully these two roundabouts will make it safer and quicker to get around,” West Chester Trustee Ann Becker said previously.
The final roundabout is in Liberty Township at Millikin and LeSourdsville roads. The estimate is $934,000 and OPWC would pay $737,860 and the county $196,140. The early price tag was estimated at $1.25 million but they have reduced it.
Wilkens said his sense is contractors will sharpen their pencils this year and all the projects will can be built with less local cash, “it saves money to build other projects,” he said.
“Anytime we can get subsidies or grants without match is few and far between but Greg Wilkens has done a great job doing it more than once,” County Commissioner Don Dixon said. “That’s great for the taxpayers and Butler County.”
The projects join other major roundabout projects planned or underway at notable intersections. The Ohio Department of Transportation announced this week that it awarded $2.3 million for the construction of a single-lane roundabout at Ohio 122 and Elk Creek Road in Butler County. The project, still in the design phase, is slated to begin in 2024 and tentatively be completed by the fall of 2025, according to ODOT officials.
Another major roundabout in Butler County is located at Jacksonburg Road and Ohio 73, the site of several serious crashes. ODOT said construction is well underway, but contractors are on a winter break.
Wilkens said they have experienced a 60% reduction in overall accidents, an 80% reduction in injury accidents and a 100% drop in fatalities compared to 40%, 75% and 90% respectively nationwide.
“That’s the sole reason for putting them in,” Wilkens said. “It isn’t because they are a fad or something, they work.”
This story was originally published by Journal-News, a media partner of WCPO 9.