PERRYSBURG — Another diverging diamond could be coming to the city, in an effort to reduce accidents and congestion off Interstate 75.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is conducting a feasibility study considering two primary options for improvements to the I-75 and U.S. 20/U.S. 23 Fremont Pike – Exit 193 interchange. It would affect both Perrysburg and Perrysburg Township with either a modified partial cloverleaf interchange or a diverging diamond.
An open house presentation of the study was held at Perrysburg Junior High School on Thursday. Extensive artist renditions of the options were presented with overlays of satellite imagery of the areas being affected.
“I think the diverging diamond would be the way to go. It looks a lot safer,” Perrysburg Township Trustee Joe Schaller said. “I think it’s a definite needed improvement. It’s not going to get any better the way it is.”
The township has spent more than a year discussing issues of car stacking along Route 20/Route 23, around the I-75 exit.
“It would keep the traffic moving, all headed in a specified direction and with a diverging diamond you can’t really stop in the middle,” Schaller said. “It’s good to see ODOT doing these kinds of things and getting public opinion.”
Crash analysis data from 2017-19 on Route 20, from East Boundary Street to Lime City Road found 387 crashes, half of which occurred at the I-75 interchange, with 61.5 % being rear-end crashes and 22.7% resulting in injuries.
Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn has been studying the area.
“I realize the cost is higher on the diverging diamond, but the two big goals here are reducing crashes and moving traffic, because there is a lot of traffic there and there’s going to continue to be more traffic,” Wasylyshyn said. “The diverging diamond, clearly, according to the articles I have read, reduces crashes by over 50% compared to the other option which only reduced crashes by 22%.”
He acknowledged that there was a lot of concern about the diverging diamond interchange on Ohio 25 at Interstate 475.
“It has worked great. People were all concerned,” Wasylyshyn said, “It’s very clearly marked, it’s easy to use, it moves a lot of traffic. Maybe people forgot, it wasn’t that long ago that traffic was backed up all the way to Roachton Road, heading into Perrysburg.”
He said that there would be fewer traffic lights and other traffic control devices, all making left turns safer.
The new I-75 diverging diamond would go under the interstate, instead of over, like it is on Route 25.
Doug Rogers, ODOT District 2 project manager, said that the project construction could start in 2025. The estimated cost of the diverging diamond would be around $17 million, and the cloverleaf would be about $8 million.
A cloverleaf is the standard interstate expressway entrance and exit interchange with curving ramps. From aerial photos that type of interchange looks like the outline of a four-leaf clover.
Amy Zimmerman, senior transportation engineer with DGL Consulting Engineers, said that construction is estimated to take a year.
“Our biggest issue is accidents,” she said. “With the diverging diamond, we are looking at a 58% reduction in accidents on the east and west side ramps.”
Rogers said that there are also backups on I-75 from some of the ramps.
“Those are usually high level crashes that have a lot of bodily harm,” he said. “That’s a big concern for ODOT, so the DDI alternative is modeling as no-backups on I-75. The (cloverleaf) is still showing some backups. It’s cheaper, $7 million or $8 million, but it doesn’t fix our issues.”
Asphalt is an oil-based material and inflation would impact the price of the project.
Perrysburg Councilwoman Jan Materni, who retired from a career in road construction at ODOT, was also for the diverging diamond for safety reasons, but also voiced concerns about the escalating costs of construction, due to recent inflation and increasing oil costs.
“Fuel prices affect asphalt prices, stone prices, it affects the whole construction project in ways that you wouldn’t even think, from the costs of the fuel to build it, to the materials themselves,” Materni said.
In addition to the interchange improvement, there would be a single lane roundabout at the intersection of East South Boundary Street and Route 20 as well as a multi-use path along Route 20/Route 23 from East Boundary Street to the Crossroads Parkway.
“I prefer the diverging diamond, but I really like the multi-use path. Being a bicyclist, I think it’s just great. It would allow pedestrians and cyclists that access to all those shops along there,” Mark Weber, Perrysburg councilman, said.
The general public also showed up for the open house and ODOT took their input as well.
“I like it. I like the diverging diamond, over the other. I travel U.S. 20 all the time. I have rental property in Perrysburg, so I’m going to Home Depot, Lowe’s and those places quite often,” Rick Ruffner, owner of O-Deer Diner, said.
Wood County Engineer John Musteric also looked over the plans.
“We’re really not involved in this project. I just wanted to come down and see the conceptual drawings. I love the diverging diamond one, with the roundabout, because we know that making the left-hand turns, from I-75 heading south, was a problem,” he said.