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ODOT reevaluating Woodsfield island removal

T-L File Photo This photograph, taken last year, shows the Main Street traffic islands in front of the Monroe County Courthouse in Woodsfield. The Ohio Department of Transportation is reevaluating its original roadway improvement project plans in an attempt to possibly avoid removal of the islands.

WOODSFIELD — A roadway safety improvement project in Woodsfield is temporarily on hold while the Ohio Department of Transportation searches for potential alternatives to avoid the removal of the median islands in Woodsfield.

After months of deliberations with local residents and consultants, ODOT paused the project while determining the best course of action moving forward.

The traffic islands, situated along Ohio 26 and Ohio 78, had been set to be removed as a part of an ODOT roadway safety improvement project. The estimated $900,000 effort includes intersection improvements to Ohio 26, Ohio 78 and Ohio 800. The project is meant to improve safety on the roadways, as there have been numerous crashes at the three intersections over the years.

However, many residents voiced opposition to the island removal due to the structures’ historic location and the beauty they bring to the downtown area.

Last year, the Ohio National Historic Preservation Office determined that adjacent properties are listed on or eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic Places, which prompted ODOT to open a consulting party for the impending project. Local residents and organizations were also offered the opportunity to act as consultants for the project.

ODOT recently sent out a letter to registered project participants that states that in an effort to avoid or minimize any impact to the islands, ODOT will continue to look at possible alternatives. Ashley Rittenhouse, public information officer for ODOT District 10, said the department is in the process of hiring a second consulting firm to ensure all options have been considered prior to moving forward with the project.

“We’re in the process of hiring a second consultant to reevaluate the square and determine if the necessary safety improvements can be made without removing these islands,” she said.

The new consultant will be used to identify alternatives that could alleviate the safety concerns posed at the intersections and avoid an adverse effect to the eligible historic district, Rittenhouse said.

“While we have investigated numerous alternatives and have not yet identified one that would both satisfy the purpose and need of the project and avoid the islands, we are open to new ideas,” she added.

Rittenhouse said the decision to hire a new consultant was made after receiving feedback from consultants and the public regarding the islands.

At this point, the project timeline is unclear due to ODOT taking the additional step to hire another consultant, she said. The timeline will be determined once the new consultant has had time to evaluate the situation and report its findings back to ODOT.

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