MEDINA COUNTY, Ohio - The Ohio Department of Transportation is planning stricter law enforcement and zero tolerance for speeding along State Route 18 east of I-71.
ODOT last week approved a 5 mile-long "safety corridor" along the busy roadway in an attempt to improve safety and reduce crashes.
23,000 drivers use the road every day often exceeding the 55 mph speed limit, and it's considered among the most dangerous roads in the county, ODOT officials said. ODOT reported 563 crashes in the area between 2008 and 2015, including 9 fatalities.
District 3 Deputy Director Howard Huebner said the state's first safety corridor will include new signage, increased law enforcement and zero tolerance for speeding.
"It is to increase safety, reduce accidents and reduce severity of any accidents we do have," Huebner said. "If this is successful, I think it could spread all over the state."
The corridor will be modeled on similar zones in Arizona, where drivers are ticketed for going just one mile per hour over the speed limit. Huebner said local law enforcement will determine protocol for speed enforcement in Medina County.
"The whole idea is to draw more attention," he said.
ODOT will provide additional funding to the Ohio State Highway Patrol and Medina County Sheriff's Office for increased patrols. Huebner said ODOT expects the corridor to be in place by spring and will communicate changes to drivers in advance.
"I think drivers need to be more aware," said driver Annie Laurie Chelovitz, who supports the change. "People are going all different speeds, and it needs to be enforced."
ODOT is also planning a $3.5 million improvement project to begin in 2019 that will widen the road, add turn lanes, make traffic signals more visible and improve intersection lighting.