The residents of Clark County and surrounding communities who have used Lower Valley Pike to travel from the western edge into Springfield have a clear understanding of the curves and the narrow roadway.
This “cow path” was established early in county history as settlers made their way out of Cincinnati heading east along the Miami and Mad Rivers. The first house in our county, according to Clark County Commissioner John Detrick, was the Donaldson house which was located along the Lower Valley Pike near Durbin. Moving on to modern times, Detrick explained that this is one of the most traveled roads in our community.
After several years of planning and moving through the process to secure funding, Clark County will begin making changes as early as May to this roadway that has claimed a number of lives over the years.
Paul DeButy of the Clark County Engineer’s office explained that the funding for this estimated $6.9 million upgrade is coming from “safety funds” made available in full to the county by the County Engineer’s Association of Ohio and ODOT High Risk Rural Road Funds.
Dean Fenton of the Engineer’s office explained that the project? which is expected to take at least a year to completen will include a six-miile stretch of the Pike beginning at Enon Road and heading west to Osborn Road which is just beyond Medway. The plan is to open the bidding process for the work in April with a start date of June 2015.
The Enon Road intersection has been a particularly deadly stretch of road over the last 30 odd years. A motorcycle rider was killed in the intersection and crosses mark the location to the right of the intersection heading south on Enon Road. A house once stood at the intersection on the far left side of the roadway and was moved by a company after another fatal accident several years earlier. In recent memory a young man was struck in this same intersection headed west bound and a woman was hit by a dump truck closer to the area where Snider Road intersects with Lower Valley.
Although reports of these tragic events were taken into consideration, the actual safety study was done for a three to five year period of the mid 2000s. DeButy noted that the study was completed and the time leading up to the start of the project allows for application for funding and program design which takes several years once an area is identified that would qualify for improvements.
The funding for the project has been secured with 90% coming from federal dollars and remaining funds of a local match coming from Ohio Public Works Commission monies.
When the project gets underway, residents will notice minor changes as trees and other vegetation are removed. Structural items such as fences and poles will also need to be relocated in preparation for the actual construction.
Fenton explained that the project will involve widening and flattening out the roadway. The plan is to increase the width of the roadbed by two feet on either side of the existing roadway. The shoulders of the road will be graded out to an additional four feet wide.
Also included in the project according to DeButy is the reconstruction of three minor bridges along the roadway. Heading west from Enon Road, the Donnels Creek Bridge, which is just east of Hampton Road, will be replaced. The bridge located between Lammes Lane and Snider Road that crosses Jackson Creek will also be replaced. The culvert slab bridge just west of Enon Road will be the third replacement during the reconstruction project.
“This project is for the safety of our citizens,” stated Commissioner Detrick. “We are being proactive” to make these improvements, he added. Detrick commended how Clark County Engineer Jon Burr has been instrumental in working to plan and implement a number of improvements to roads in the county since taking office.
Several years ago, the intersection of Enon Road and Lower Valley had rumble strips installed in hopes of increasing the safety of drivers at this intersection. The four-way stop has seen improvements in the area of controlling accidents since the installation was completed. DeButy stated that the rumble strips will be reinstalled as part of the project, but may be absent for a time during the actual work.
Fenton explained that the intersections along the route will also see a widening process of a four-foot radius for side streets.
Prior to the start of the project, the county has been working for several months to secure the right of way and various easements needed for the project which includes 153 parcels along the road.
In regards to traffic flow during the construction, DeButy stated that the contractor will be working with homeowners for driveway access and will be working to maintain traffic flow to businesses along the route. He noted that some isolated closures will be necessary especially where the bridges will be replaced.
The ultimate goal of the project is to provide a safer route for area commuters and travelers visiting the designated Scenic Byway. The increased roadbed along with the graded shoulders will allow for a safer correction should a driver slip off of the road.
As Mr. Detrick stated, “this road was never designed for the speeds of today’s vehicles.” By 2016 Clark County is expected to have a safer road thanks to federal tax dollars coming back to our community.