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TWINSBURG --- A last-minute effort to revise engineering plans for the Darrow Road and Meadowood Boulevard intersection from a roundabout to a signaled intersection narrowly failed at City Council's May 9 meeting, clearing the way for the second, planned roundabout as part of the overall Route 91 improvement project.
Council voted down legislation 3-4 May 9 that would have redesigned the intersection, which also includes Ethan's Drive to the east, into a four-lane, lighted intersection. Voting for the redesign were Councilmembers Gary Sorace (At-large), Bill Furey (At-large) and Brian Steele (Ward 2). Councilmembers Sam Scaffide (Ward 1), Jo-Ann McFearin (Ward 3), Maureen Stauffer (Ward 4) and Seth Rodin (Ward 5) voted against the redesign.
Furey said he proposed the legislation for redesign to a traditional intersection at the April 25 meeting because residents in the area don't want the Meadowood roundabout and don't like the first one opened this past fall at Glenwood Drive and Route 91.
"Why would I have any doubt about that decision?" Furey said. "Because about a year and a half ago, I walked all over Meadowood and I was just shocked at how unhappy many of the residents were. It was one of the first things they wanted to talk to me about. I had no idea people were that upset about the original roundabout, much less a second one."
Rodin voted against the idea of a second roundabout in 2014 but said, "I'm actually pleased with the first one. I was actually for the first one."
The biggest factor for many on Council who voted to move the project move forward as planned, with the two, bookending roundabouts, was the estimated $300,000 that city would have had to spend for a redesign, paying the money back to the Ohio Department of Transportation.
"I'm pretty fiscally aware," Rodin said. "And I'm not going to do something that will cause the city [to spend more money]."
Rodin also said he was disappointed by the poll released by Mayor Ted Yates May 8 that gauged resident support for the second roundabout. The poll was offered online (non-residents could not comment) and in printed form.
"We've been asking for this for a year," Rodin said. "We get it yesterday, a half hour before the mayor puts it out. I don't think there's a true value as to why you did it, other than to appease those who asked for it. I really feel this was a slap in the face because it really means nothing now."
Yates said he wanted to gauge public opinion on the roundabout at Glenwood Drive and Route 91, which opened in December, but to do it after it opened "seemed useless."
"To be honest, I've never supported a survey," Yates said. "I think I've made that position clear. No one stopped Council from making a motion to do a survey. The only thing I requested was that to do one once one opened just seemed useless. I still think [the recent survey] is [still] too soon but I understand the position for the second part of the project."
"The scientific thing to do would have been a random sampling with phone surveys," Yates said. "But that would have cost $20,000. I didn't feel like spending $20,000 on a survey I didn't support in the first place."
Yates said he received about 1,500 responses on the Meadowood roundabout by May 9, with respondents split 50/50 on the roundabout. Yates said when the question of the $300,000 cost for redesign came up, "then it shifted in favor of not" redesigning.
Steele raised concerns about the increase of accidents on the Glenwood Drive/Rt. 91 roundabout since the intersection reopened, citing numbers he obtained from the Twinsburg Police Department.
"In 91 and Glenwood ... [there were] four accidents that actually occurred in that intersection before the roundabout," Steele said. "In 2016 in that roundabout we had 10 accidents. In 2017, we've had eight already. If you go from 2012 to before the start of the roundabout, we had 23 total accidents. We averaged five a year."
Both Scaffide and Stauffer said federal data indicates that roundabouts are generally safer than intersections.
"If you pulled up the Federal Highway Association website, the data hasn't changed," Stauffer said. "It's indisputable that it is safer. There's data from the Ohio Department of Transportation. There is no doubt there would be an increase of accidents in the first six months of opening.
"We knew that going in. That was explained to us six years ago when we made the decision. In any study that you read, it will say they are safer."
The planned circle at Meadowood Boulevard and Rt. 91 is part of the full $8 million Rt. 91 improvement project. Council also passed legislation 6-1 May 9 approving widening Route 91 from Glenwood to the Solon border. Steele cast the dissenting vote.
According to city engineer Amy Mohr, the cost for the planned roundabout is estimated at $4.13 million dollars, with the city's share at $690,00 and the federal share at about $3.44 million.
The city is hoping to get an Ohio Public Works Commission grant for $470,000 to cover part of the city's share.
The engineering department hopes to file its final plans to the Ohio Department of Transportation in June. Construction of the roundabout would start sometime in the fall of 2019 and conclude in 2020.