ENGLEWOOD — A solution that should help alleviate some of the traffic congestion on southbound State Route 48 at the Interstate 70 overpass is now in place.
Englewood City Manager Eric Smith on Monday met with officials with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the contractor to work out details for closing the pedestrian walkway that has been established in the right lane to accommodate a second southbound lane at the overpass. The switch over is expected to be completed by Wednesday morning. RTA has agreed to provide a free, short shuttle service for any pedestrians that may wish to travel from one side of the overpass to the other.
“Partial congestion relief is within sight!” Smith said.
Construction has caused heavy traffic congestion on State Route 48 beneath Interstate 70 as a result of the single lane closure that is currently in place.
Federal law requires pedestrian traffic to be safely maintained at all times, and an earlier attempt to eliminate the walkway failed. A solution was found when RTA agreed to provide a free shuttle service via their regularly scheduled Route 16 buses from one side of the bridge construction to the other.
Signs with the following message will be posted at the southbound SR 48 bus stops located just north of I-70 (near Skyline Chili) and just south of I-70 (near McDonald’s):
‘Sidewalk Closed Beyond this Point, Please wait at Bus Stop for next available RTA route 16 Bus for free Transport to other side of Bridge Construction on SR 48.’
“We wanted to make you aware of this change as it will be taking place Tuesday night and will thus be in effect by Wednesday morning,” said Jackie Nicol, transportation engineer with the Ohio Department of Transportation.
“This was a cooperative effort, a collaboration among several different agencies. I cannot take credit for it,” Smith said. “It was just a group effort. RTA, the Ohio Department of Transportation, Englewood, the contractor (John R. Jurgensen Co.), we all knew what needed to be done; we were just stymied by the law. We put our heads together and came up with the idea of RTA providing a shuttle service. We thought it was a longshot, but it turns out RTA loves the idea.”
Smith pointed out that RTA is caught in the traffic congestion as well with buses being delayed and schedules thrown off.
“Not only will another lane be opened up but the bus pull offs will be available again because right now they are barreled off,” Smith noted. “Having access to the pull offs means the buses won’t be backing traffic up when they are loading and unloading.”
Once the additional southbound lane is opened up the city can adjust the timing on the traffic signals, which would probably allow more time for northbound traffic to get through as well.
“I hate to use a tired cliché but this is a win-win for everybody. I could not be happier,” Smith said.
Northbound traffic would still be funneled into one lane as there is no solution to accommodate an additional lane on that side of 48.
Smith pointed out that there would still be congestion on the southbound lanes, but with the additional lane opening it should help considerably by doubling the capacity for traffic flow.