WESTFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- After the area has had more than 43 crashes in 15 years, including two fatal crashes last October, some Westfield Township residents, as well as Medina County officials, have expressed concern about what they say is a dangerous intersection.
The intersection involves busy Route 224 and Westfield Road in which drivers making a left onto 224, must watch for fast moving cross traffic to their left and their right.
Now, ODOT is putting in what's called a restricted crossing U-turn, also called an R Cut, in effort to reduce the number of crashes.
As it stands now, if a bus wants to make a left at the intersection, the driver has to wait for traffic to the left to clear, then wait for traffic to the right to also clear.
But with R Cuts, the driver doesn't have to cross the first lanes of the divided highway. Instead they only make a right turn, get into the left lane and then get to the U turn to make what ODOT calls an easier and much safer left.
A federal transportation safety study found R Cuts reduce fatal and injury accidents by 54%.
“From 2012 to 2018 alone they saw 20 crashes, dozens more in the years before that.
So there is a crash issue at this intersection of 224 and Westfield Road in Medina County, and that’s why this safety study was done,” said ODOT Spokespeople Amanda McFarland.
However, Westfield Township Trustee Michael Schmidt doesn't believe the R Cut is the safest answer.
He says the 60 mph speed limit on the federal highway is too fast and too dangerous for cross traffic. He wants the speed limit reduced to 50 mph. Adding that 4,000 vehicles use that stretch of Route 224 and the intersection on Westfield Road daily.
“The speed limit is 60 mph. There are freeways where the speed limit is less than that with no access. Whereas here you have a two-lane or a four-lane highway with cross traffic at 60 mph,” Schmidt said.
However, according to McFarland, the Ohio Department of Transportation would have to do a safety study to see if Route 224 meets the criteria for a lower speed limit before that change could be made.
R Cut construction starts Monday and will close one lane in both directions until May 2020.