11 of the most dangerous sections of State Route 59 are located in Kent… TV2 reporter Danielle Slack has more.
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Contact Danielle Slack at [email protected]
Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study, the transportation planning agency for the Akron metropolitan area, ranked 39 sections of state Route 59 among the most dangerous driving locations in the Akron region in its recent annual traffic crash report — 11 of these areas are located in Kent. The report analyzed all crashes in the Akron region between 2010 and 2012, excluding construction-zone and animal-related crashes.
“State Route 59 has been an issue for a long time,” AMATS engineer Dave Pulay said .
Pulay attributes the problems to a combination of high traffic volume, distracted drivers and a lack of turn lanes along state Route 59, resulting in a high number of rear-end crashes — the most common type of crash in Kent.
The most dangerous area roadway segments and intersections, determined by the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study data from 2010 through 2012
Top five high-crash roadway sections in Kent
East Main Street, between Horning Road and the eastern city limit — 37 crashes East Main Street, between Water and Willow streets — 29 crashes >South Water Street, between Haymaker Parkway and East Main Street — 10 crashes East Main Street, between Willow Street and Luther Avenue — 64 crashes South Water Street, between state Route 261 and Cherry Street— 29 crashes
Top five high-crash
intersections in Kent
State Route 261 and Franklin Avenue/Sunnybrook Road — 29 crashes
East Main Street and Lincoln Avenue — 35 crashes South Water Street and state Route 261 — 70 crashes East Summit and South Lincoln streets — 51 crashes
State Route 261 and Mogadore Road — 25 crashes
Top five highest crash areas in Portage County
State Route 59 between state Route 261 and Brady Lake Road — 146 crashes (Portage County/Ravenna Township) State Route 14 between state Route 303 and Diagonal Road — 136 crashes (Streetsboro) State Route 14/303 and state Route 43 — 127 crashes (Streetsboro) State Route 14 between I-480 ramp to Ohio Turnpike and state Route 303 — 87 crashes (Streetsboro) State Route 43 between Kent north city line and Streetsboro south city line — 84 crashes (Portage County Franklin Township)
Source: AMATS Traffic Crash Report
Each year, AMATS compiles data collected from crash records provided by the Ohio Department of Public Safety and the Ohio Department of Transportation and identifies the most hazardous driving areas in the Akron metropolitan area. This data is used to identify areas with safety concerns, and municipalities are then able to apply for funding to address these concerns.
In order to be identified as a high-crash location, certain qualifications must be met. The report is divided between high-crash roadway sections and intersections. Each area must have reported 10 crashes or more within the three-year period being studied, with a crash rate of at least one per million approach vehicles.
After identifying these areas, a crash rate and severity index are calculated and an overall composite score is assigned. The severity index is determined by the proportion of fatal and injury crashes at each location. Locations with multiple crashes resulting in injuries or fatalities receive higher overall rankings.
While overall crashes remained somewhat steady in the Akron region, the number of crashes in Portage County increased by 2 percent.
Portage County houses 39 high-crash intersections out of 263 in the region — 14 of which are located in Kent.
Summit Street contains six of Kent’s high-crash intersections, totaling 153 crashes — the highest number of intersection crashes in Kent.
The intersection of state Route 261, Franklin Avenue and Sunnybrook Road ranked eighth on the list in the region and was the top ranked high-crash intersection in Kent. With an average daily traffic volume of only 11,705 vehicles, this intersection accrued 29 crashes during the three-year period. A high proportion of injury crashes at this location led to its high ranking, despite its relatively low number of overall crashes.
“It’s a bad combination of a traffic signal and a lot of fast-moving traffic,” Pulay said.
The section of state Route 59 from Horning Road to Kent’s eastern border is ranked the most dangerous in Kent and No. 4 overall in the region with a daily traffic count of 17,350 vehicles and 37 wrecks during the three-year period.
Even though the crashes were not as severe on West Main Street, the area is still a concern. Many rear-end as well as angle-type crashes occur here, Pulay said.
East Main Street between Willow Street and Luther Avenue recorded the highest number of crashes and traffic flow on a roadway segment, according to the report. Sixty-four crashes occurred within the three-year period, while an average of 21,790 vehicles traveled the stretch of roadway each day.
Kent City Engineer Jim Bowling attributes this to a high level of congestion, which creates a difficult challenge of turning left out the many driveways along this section of roadway.
In 2011, a traffic signal system was installed to interconnect every traffic signal from Longmere Drive to Horning Road, with the goal of improving traffic flow along state Route 59 through the campus area.
“We hope to see crashes decline or the rate decline with the signal system in place,” Bowling said, adding that the 2010 data from the AMATS report shows crash data before the signal system was installed.
While Portage County reported 42 accident-related fatalities during the study period, Kent reported only one — at Fairchild and Woodard avenues.
Most safety-improvement projects succeed in improving driver safety, Pulay said, but occasionally there is little that can be done.
Bowling said a full improvement of West Main Street would be in the range of $10 million. In addition to wider lanes and turn lanes being added, he further suggested that coordinating the traffic signals could potentially further improve safety.
Source: Ohio Department of Public Safety
“The city of Kent, because of its size, can handle only one or two really significant jobs like that at a time, assuming that it gets outside money,” Bowling said. “When you’re talking about the top issues in the city, they’re the top issues because it’s the most difficult thing to fix.”
Kent recently completed a $26 million replacement of the Fairchild Avenue Bridge, and will begin a major reconstruction of Summit Street in 2015. The Summit Street plan is projected to cost approximately $15 million, according to Bowling. A project to interconnect traffic signals along state Route 43 between state Route 261 and Summit Street is also planned for 2017.
Bowling admitted that West Main Street is one of two possible projects to be considered as future improvements after Summit Street is completed in 2016 — the second is state Route 261. He added that decisions on projects are based on the ability to acquire the necessary financing, staffing and safety needs.
Safety-related road improvements are funded primarily from federal gas-tax money, Bowling said. Additional funding comes from state gas taxes, federal grants and funding from metropolitan planning organizations such as AMATS.
The overall most common time period crashes occurred in Kent was Friday between 3 and 5 p.m., according to ODOT’s Crash Analysis Model. However, one exception was Summit Street, which accumulated most of its traffic incidents on Tuesdays between 1 and 2 p.m. Most crashes occur on dry, sunny days because drivers are less focused on driving and distracted by other objects in their vehicles, than during rain or snowy days, Pulay said. Urban areas generally report more property damage crashes because of the slow moving traffic and congestion. While rural areas report more injuries and fatalities because of the increased speed limits and road design, Pulay said.
Contact Amanda Crumm at [email protected]