By Jeff Gallatin
State and city officials are setting up another road safety precaution that motorists are less likely to flip over in the future.
City Council was expected to approve legislation last night giving permission to the Ohio Department of Transportation to upgrade three end terminals or barriers on Columbia Road to make the areas safer. The three barrier upgrades are in addition to three that ODOT workers already upgraded in the Great Northern Boulevard and Interstate 480 area.
Safety/service Director Scott Thomas said the new barriers are being designed to keep vehicles safer if they strike the barriers.
“The ODOT engineers had studied the different barriers on state routes and found that the older ones they call ‘Type A’ barriers like the ones they currently have on Columbia and used to have on Great Northern actually can cause more problems,” Thomas said. “Those barriers actually showed a tendency to flip vehicles when they would strike the barrier, causing them to go over the barrier and damage the vehicles even more and cause a greater potential for injury to people in the vehicles.”
ODOT officials sent their city counterparts a letter in August noting the state agency had obtained a grant to assist in upgrading the terminals on state routes in Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties. ODOT workers put together a project to upgrade the end terminals which they had identified as the highest priorities based on their potential risk to motorists.
Thomas said both the I-480 and Columbia Road barriers were natural selections for the upgrades, given the criteria set by ODOT.
“Both those areas are heavily traveled, so it makes sense that they would be high on the list for the upgrades,” he said.
Lou Brossard, chairman of City Council’s Streets and Transportation Committee, which recommended approving the measure, said it’s a good move for the city.
“It’s not going to cost the city anything because the grant is going to pay for the installation and the new materials,” he said. “We are responsible for maintenance and repairs if anything happens. But, in a lot of cases where there’s an accident and a vehicle hits it, the insurance company often ends up paying for the damages. This is a case where we can upgrade safety at very little cost to the city, so it makes sense to do it.”
Thomas asked for the three readings on the legislation to be suspended since ODOT officials asked the city to have the legislation passed and related documents sent to ODOT by Sept. 27. He said initial expectations are that the new barriers would be installed within a six-month period.