A “safety corridor” will be created starting in January by the Ohio Department of Transportation on state Route 18 in Sharon Township. LAWRENCE PANTAGES / GAZETTE
SHARON TWP. — The Ohio Department of Transportation will test stricter penalties along a portion of state Route 18, one of Medina County’s most dangerous stretches.
Sharon Township Trustee Ray Lurtz said when the enforcement begins, drivers could be cited for going even 1 mph over the speed limit of 55 mph.
“That’s steep for 1 mile,” Lurtz said. “Hopefully, it will cut down on accidents and fatalities.”
According to statistics from ODOT, there were 563 accidents along that stretch of Route 18 from 2008 to 2015. That included nine fatalities.
Officials are hoping to curtail speeding and distracted driving, according to Julie A. Cichello, ODOT District 3 traffic engineer.
The 5-mile stretch from Windfall Road to Medina Line Road is the border between Sharon and Granger townships and “will be the first safety corridor in the state,” Cichello said.
ODOT will start by adding new signage along Route 18 informing drivers they are entering a zero-tolerance corridor. She said there could be increased communication about the upcoming changes, mostly to give drivers fair warning they are about to be enacted. New enforcement will begin in January.
Cichello said ODOT is closely watching safety corridors that were implemented beginning February in other portions of the country. Arizona has sectors where drivers are cited for going 1 mph over the posted speed limit. She said ODOT would work with the county sheriff’s office or the highway patrol to “create our own rules.”
“I don’t know how strict it will be,” Cichello said.
Cichello said the difference between what officials are considering in Medina County and Arizona is that the latter corridor is found on interstate highways.
“It’s not on a surface street like (Route) 18,” Cichello said. “We’ll try it here and see how it works.”
The agency also will provide an undetermined amount of funding to the Ohio Highway Patrol and Medina County Sheriff’s Office for additional enforcement along the corridor.
Cichello said ODOT doesn’t usually provide funding to law enforcement, but “this is something special.”
She said there will be further roadway improvements of about $3.5 million on the stretch in 2019. Cichello said ODOT is planning to replace all traffic signals along that corridor in an attempt to improve visibility. The state will add a mast arm that will have the signal mounted on it and hang over the roadway. She said those signals don’t blow around like the ones hanging from a wire span.
Street name signs and lighting will be added on the mast arms.
The state will add northbound and southbound right turn lanes at Windfall Road, right turns lanes on all four approaches at the intersection of Routes 18 and 94 (Ridge Road), and an eastbound right turn lane at Medina Line Road.
“The goal is to reduce the crashes out there,” Cichello said.
Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or email@example.com.