Media Advisory

District Two Office of Communications
317 East Poe Road
Bowling Green, OH 43402

March 11, 2002


Bowling Green – Ohio Department of Transportation Director Gordon Proctor and District Two Deputy Director Richard Martinko today announced that a new alignment has been selected as the preferred alternative to improve safety on the 21-mile section of U.S. 24, from Napoleon to Interstate 475 near Maumee.

Proctor made the announcement today at a press conference held at the ODOT District Two Office, in Bowling Green. "ODOT recommends a new alignment, known as Alternative C, to address U.S. 24's safety problems while minimizing environmental impacts," stated Proctor.

Alternative C, as it is proposed, would build a new four-lane expressway between Napoleon and
I-475 near Maumee, at an estimated cost of $98 million. The alignment would begin at Napoleon, run south of Liberty Center and north of the Village of Texas, and then would roughly parallel the existing U.S. 24 alignment, pass north of the Village of Waterville, where it will then tie in to the existing four-lane section of U.S. 24 near Dutch Road.

U.S. 24, the direct route between Fort Wayne and Toledo, has excessively high truck and traffic volumes. Presently, truck volumes exceed 4,000 daily, which is nearly three times the state average for comparable rural roads, and are projected to grow an additional 60 percent over the next 20 years. Between 1990 and 2000, truck volumes on U.S. 24 increased to 56 percent, and overall truck traffic increased 196 percent. High truck volumes exacerbate the severity of accidents, especially head-on crashes. This contributes to the fatality rate on U.S. 24 being 45 percent higher than the state average for comparable rural roads. Trucks won't divert to other roads because two-thirds are en route to businesses within the U.S. 24 corridor, and alternate routes are between 20 and 40 miles longer for a trip from Fort Wayne to Toledo, meaning few vehicles want to divert to other routes.

"ODOT has made many safety improvements to the existing two-lane U.S. 24 but has ruled out upgrading the existing two-lane U.S. 24 as the final solution," stated Deputy Director Martinko. "Turn lanes, traffic signals, wider intersections and shoulders only partially address current conditions. This project is aimed at fully addressing current conditions and conditions as they are projected to be in the future. An improved two-lane road does not solve the congestion issue, nor does it eliminate the over 400 at-grade conflict points along the highway, including the 240 residential driveways. Seventy percent of the accidents are related to the at-grade conflicts points and driveways."

Using the existing alignment for a new, four-lane road has also been ruled out. "Upgrading the existing route to four lanes would take 81 homes and 14 businesses along the route which is more than double the preferred Alternative C," stated Deputy Director Martinko. "A four-lane upgrade would affect 590 acres on 54 farms, and would also have a significantly higher impact on parks and historic properties then the preferred Alternative C."

"ODOT is recommending a new alignment known as Alternative C because it solves both the existing and projected traffic problems while minimizing environmental impacts," stated Director Proctor. "A new alignment solves the roadway's traffic problems by allowing traffic to pass and by reducing head-on crashes. Statistics show that a rural four-lane highway has a 75% lower fatal crash rate than a rural 2-lane highway. Alternative C has only 38 family relocations, vs. 81 for the upgrade alternative, and it has lower environmental impacts than most other alternatives. Finally, Alternative C was endorsed by the state and federal environmental agencies."

"ODOT is aware of the local concerns regarding the potential for development to occur in areas adjacent to a new highway," stated Director Proctor. "As part of this project, ODOT is willing to commit up to $1 million in federal enhancement funds to help the region devise a strategy for reducing the effect the project interchanges may have upon local land use development. ODOT offers to assist in the formation of a regional coalition to devise a strategy for appropriate development near the project's interchanges. The $1 million could be used for planning, land purchases, easements or other strategies developed by local consensus."

Deputy Director Martinko stated, "We are also aware that access to the new alignment and location of interchanges is a prime concern of the community. Therefore, we will seek input from local officials, including schools and emergency services providers, to determine final roadway and interchange locations and configurations."

ODOT's recommendation will be made in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The DEIS will be subject to two more years of review by local citizens, State, and Federal officials.

Since 1996, ODOT has made some 27 safety improvements along the 21 mile section of US 24 from Napoleon to Interstate 475 near Maumee. ODOT will continue to address safety issues on the existing alignment while the DEIS is under review, and as the new corridor is designed. Scheduled improvements include adding turn lanes at the U.S. 24/State Route 295 intersection, and adding "center line" rumble strips in an effort to reduce head on collisions.

For further information, contact:
Joseph W. Rutherford, Administrator
District Two, 317 E. Poe Road, Bowling Green, Ohio 43402
Phone: (419) 373-4471