By JIM MAURER
STAFF WRITER
TIFFIN — A draft report of an Ohio 53 study is expected to be presented in July, project managers reported Friday to members of a four-county group seeking safety improvements for nearly 55 miles of the state highway.
A final report is likely in September.
The study will cover Ohio 53 from the U.S. 30/U.S. 23 interchange near Upper Sandusky in Wyandot County to Ohio 2 in Ottawa County.
The four counties — Seneca, Wyandot, Sandusky and Ottawa — would like the road to be upgraded with wider shoulders and left-turn lanes at some intersections.
On Friday, Mike Stormer, project manager with the state Department of Transportation District 2, Bowling Green, and Vickie Wildeman, project manager with DLZ, the Toledo engineering company hired by the state to do the study, spoke to representatives of the four counties. They discussed the study, services offered by the engineering firm to complete the study, expectations for the study, and establishing a core group of individuals from the four counties to work with the project managers.
Members of the four-county group, called the Transportation Coalition of North Central Ohio, would like a cost estimate for the project, but it is too early for such information, Stormer said, since a project has not been developed yet.
Various sources for construction money were discussed during the meeting, held at the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center, Tiffin, and hosted by North Central Ohio Council of Governments.
While the state transportation department will work with the group to secure funds, Stormer said, the counties will have to seek and provide some money, too.
If the project cost is at least $12 million, it could be submitted to the Transportation Review Advisory Council, a group which recommends various projects for state construction funds.
Also, a Transportation Improvement District designation through the state could provide a maximum of $250,000 per project for engineering, design, right of way acquisition or construction along the state highway.
Another funding source is federal money through the federal Small City Program. Communities with populations of 5,000 to 25,000 are eligible, which would include Fremont, Tiffin and Upper Sandusky within the four-county area.
According to Ohio 53 data collected from 2010 to 2012, there were 455 accidents and six fatalities in the four counties. In 2010 there were 144 accidents; in 2011, 175 accidents; and in 2012, 136 accidents.
About 55 percent of the accidents did not occur at an intersection, and 63 percent of the crashes happened on dry pavement.
Seneca County, with 19 miles of the road, had the highest accident total over the three years, with 244, including three fatalities. Seneca County’s total included 105 accidents in Tiffin, on 3.5 miles.
Ottawa County, with 12 miles, had 19 accidents, including two fatalities.
Wyandot County had 33 accidents over 3.5 miles, and Sandusky County had 149 accidents over 14 miles, including one fatality.
Stormer said he hoped improvements could begin soon after completion of the study and any project design.
A meeting with the core group will be held in April. The draft will be submitted to the transportation department in July, prior to a meeting with county representatives. The final report will be submitted to the transportation department in September.
Prior to Friday’s meeting, DLZ distributed a questionnaire seeking comments on specific locations which have safety-related issues. Wildeman said among those listed were: U.S. 23/U.S. 30 ramp to Ohio 53; Ohio 53 from McCutchenville to Tiffin; the railroad crossing south of McCutchenville; and Seneca County intersections at county roads 6, 52 and 14, and township roads 26 and 54.
Rich Focht, a Tiffin councilman and former executive director of Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp., said the issue was investigated in 2002 and it was suggested the Ohio 53 right of way be widened and turn lanes installed at every intersection for safety and potential economic impact.
Stormer suggested 12-foot lanes and a 10-foot shoulder.
Other suggestions Friday were: installation of rumble strips in the center of the road to alert drivers who may be distracted and cross the center line; reducing “line-of-site” issues where side roads intersect Ohio 53 near hills or curves; and widening the berms at intersections for large trucks and farm machinery trying to make turns.
Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz suggested consideration of a bypass for the city be included in the discussions.
Economic development personnel will present a survey to trucking companies which use the road to see if there are any safety issues they encounter, said Kay Reiter, executive director of Sandusky County Economic Development Corp.
The state will fund half the $100,000 project study and the four counties will pay the remainder, with Seneca County providing $25,000 through a combination of county money and private donations. Wyandot County will pay $5,000, and the other two counties will pay $10,000 each.
Maurer: 419-427-8420 Send an E-mail to Jim Maurer

By JIM MAURER
STAFF WRITER
TIFFIN — A draft report of an Ohio 53 study is expected to be presented in July, project managers reported Friday to members of a four-county group seeking safety improvements for nearly 55 miles of the state highway.
A final report is likely in September.
The study will cover Ohio 53 from the U.S. 30/U.S. 23 interchange near Upper Sandusky in Wyandot County to Ohio 2 in Ottawa County.
The four counties — Seneca, Wyandot, Sandusky and Ottawa — would like the road to be upgraded with wider shoulders and left-turn lanes at some intersections.
On Friday, Mike Stormer, project manager with the state Department of Transportation District 2, Bowling Green, and Vickie Wildeman, project manager with DLZ, the Toledo engineering company hired by the state to do the study, spoke to representatives of the four counties. They discussed the study, services offered by the engineering firm to complete the study, expectations for the study, and establishing a core group of individuals from the four counties to work with the project managers.
Members of the four-county group, called the Transportation Coalition of North Central Ohio, would like a cost estimate for the project, but it is too early for such information, Stormer said, since a project has not been developed yet.
Various sources for construction money were discussed during the meeting, held at the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center, Tiffin, and hosted by North Central Ohio Council of Governments.
While the state transportation department will work with the group to secure funds, Stormer said, the counties will have to seek and provide some money, too.
If the project cost is at least $12 million, it could be submitted to the Transportation Review Advisory Council, a group which recommends various projects for state construction funds.
Also, a Transportation Improvement District designation through the state could provide a maximum of $250,000 per project for engineering, design, right of way acquisition or construction along the state highway.
Another funding source is federal money through the federal Small City Program. Communities with populations of 5,000 to 25,000 are eligible, which would include Fremont, Tiffin and Upper Sandusky within the four-county area.
According to Ohio 53 data collected from 2010 to 2012, there were 455 accidents and six fatalities in the four counties. In 2010 there were 144 accidents; in 2011, 175 accidents; and in 2012, 136 accidents.
About 55 percent of the accidents did not occur at an intersection, and 63 percent of the crashes happened on dry pavement.
Seneca County, with 19 miles of the road, had the highest accident total over the three years, with 244, including three fatalities. Seneca County’s total included 105 accidents in Tiffin, on 3.5 miles.
Ottawa County, with 12 miles, had 19 accidents, including two fatalities.
Wyandot County had 33 accidents over 3.5 miles, and Sandusky County had 149 accidents over 14 miles, including one fatality.
Stormer said he hoped improvements could begin soon after completion of the study and any project design.
A meeting with the core group will be held in April. The draft will be submitted to the transportation department in July, prior to a meeting with county representatives. The final report will be submitted to the transportation department in September.
Prior to Friday’s meeting, DLZ distributed a questionnaire seeking comments on specific locations which have safety-related issues. Wildeman said among those listed were: U.S. 23/U.S. 30 ramp to Ohio 53; Ohio 53 from McCutchenville to Tiffin; the railroad crossing south of McCutchenville; and Seneca County intersections at county roads 6, 52 and 14, and township roads 26 and 54.
Rich Focht, a Tiffin councilman and former executive director of Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp., said the issue was investigated in 2002 and it was suggested the Ohio 53 right of way be widened and turn lanes installed at every intersection for safety and potential economic impact.
Stormer suggested 12-foot lanes and a 10-foot shoulder.
Other suggestions Friday were: installation of rumble strips in the center of the road to alert drivers who may be distracted and cross the center line; reducing “line-of-site” issues where side roads intersect Ohio 53 near hills or curves; and widening the berms at intersections for large trucks and farm machinery trying to make turns.
Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz suggested consideration of a bypass for the city be included in the discussions.
Economic development personnel will present a survey to trucking companies which use the road to see if there are any safety issues they encounter, said Kay Reiter, executive director of Sandusky County Economic Development Corp.
The state will fund half the $100,000 project study and the four counties will pay the remainder, with Seneca County providing $25,000 through a combination of county money and private donations. Wyandot County will pay $5,000, and the other two counties will pay $10,000 each.
Maurer: 419-427-8420 Send an E-mail to Jim Maurer