Major Changes in Airport Highway Traffic Flow Discussed by Swanton Village Council
Traffic safety concerns and possible resolutions involving two areas of Airport Highway within the Village limits were discussed at the May 24th Swanton Village Council meeting. The first area encompasses two west-bound lanes that start merging at the Main Street intersection and become one lane just past the former PNC Bank building, now Soaring Software Solutions. The other area is about a mile west of the first at the intersection of Airport and Munson/CR2.
Approximately five years ago, the section of Airport Highway that stretched through the Village limits was repaved and the merge markings were repainted to the state standard, resulting in a loss of 163 feet of merging distance. According to Swanton Police Chief Adam Berg, the shorter distance and time has been problematic for west-bound motorists and drivers attempting to pull out from five business-related access points. “We haven’t had crashes. We’ve had a lot of road rage and complaints. The owner of Soaring Software called with concerns of how bad it’s getting with people cutting each other off,” said Chief Berg. Another concern mentioned by the Chief was that there was no signage indicating the merger until well past the intersection.
In a meeting with Chief Berg, Village Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle and officials from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), one of the recommended solutions was to convert the right lane approaching Main Street into a “Turn Right Only” lane. Ms. Hoelzle emphasized this was just a possible solution. “I believe there is opportunity to evaluate. We’re not saying this is going to happen. I’ll make that very clear,” she said. “There are a lot of steps to take before something like that could happen. But what we’re saying is, from this conversation, it seems like it could be a ‘feasible’ option. We think it’s a good idea but there has to be support behind it based on actual facts. It’s going to take a little bit of time.”
Chief Berg said earlier warning signage placed before the intersection might also help alleviate the problem. Other issues to consider would be vehicles coming from the Kroger parking lot, its gas station and the adjacent strip mall as well as the timing of the traffic lights, first at Hallet Avenue then at Main Street.
The second area of concern, at Airport and Munson/CR2, has experienced 12 accidents in the past three years, several from vehicles attempting to pass on the right side of other vehicles making a left turn. A study, jointly commissioned by the Village and Swancreek Township five years ago, recommended putting in a turn lane for east-bound vehicles turning left onto Munson Road. The turn lane would begin in the area of the entrance to the Willow Run subdivision.
The recommendation was rejected at the time after which the contractor suggested a round-a-bout. That option would be the most expensive up front, requiring moving the intersection slightly to the east and purchasing some of the surrounding private property. Ms. Hoelzle said round-a-bouts are difficult to get funding for.
The Maumee Valley Planning Organization lists this intersection as one that would qualify for state improvement funding. If the Village applies for funding by the 30th of September of 2021, funding would not become available until 2025.
Swancreek Township Trustee Rick Kazmierczak was in attendance and recommended the Township and the Village jointly fund another study before any firm decision is made. The Council decided to pursue the issue further.
Pictured: West-bound view of the merging lanes on Airport Highway just past the Main Street intersection.