A nearly $1 million road-widening project estimated to last until October will improve traffic flow at the intersection of Harry Sauner and North High Street (U.S. 62) in Hillsboro, according to Safety and Service Director Mel McKenzie.
The project is mostly funded by the Small City Program, an Ohio Department of Transportaion grant, McKenzie said on Thursday.
According to McKenzie, the total cost of the project is about $924,000, of which the city will pay $129,000.
“The Small City grant is great, but it’s very limited,” he said. “It has to be a major thoroughfare… state routes, U.S. routes. Harry Sauner is considered a major thoroughfare because of the traffic flow, and it ties into 62.”
McKenzie said the project will widen the road enough to create a third lane beginning near Peoples Bank and ending at the intersection of Harry Sauner and 62.
According to McKenzie, the project will begin at the top of the hill near Star Cinemas.
“The lane that turns south on High Street and the lane that turns north onto High Street don’t start until Little Caesar’s and the back driveway for Tractor Supply,” he said. “That’s not a very big area for the amount of traffic that comes into that intersection.”
A third lane will allow more room for traffic heading north and south on 62 and going straight into the shopping center across from Harry Sauner, where McDonald’s exists.
McKenzie said there are no full closures planned for Harry Sauner, although he said it is a possibility if crews run into problems.
“It’ll all be traffic shifts like it is now,” he said.
McKenzie said the project itself is a large undertaking.
“There’s a lot of utilities that have to be moved,” he said. “We’re completely redoing curb and gutter, and adding some sidewalk.”
McKenzie said drivers need to be aware that no one is allowed to turn left onto Harry Sauner while heading northbound on 62.
“I know that’s out of the norm… but for the construction going on now, the problem is for people going northbound on High Street, you have to sit and wait for traffic coming southbound and that backs traffic up.”
McKenzie said he recently sat in a traffic jam backed all the way up to Highland District Hospital because someone was trying to turn left.
McKenzie said alternate routes for northbound drivers include taking a left on Hobart Drive north of Harry Sauner, then turning left on Careytown Road at the roundabout, or turning left on Fenner Road south of Harry Sauner then hanging a right on North West Street (SR 73).
“There are ways to get around it, but we’re all creatures of habit and like to follow the same routine,” he said. “Be aware of the traffic pattern. They’re going to be changing as they get different phases done. Follow the signs.”
McKenzie said he’s not sure when the intersection will be cleared.
Crews will begin by widening the southern lane of Harry Sauner, then widen the northern half and create the additional lane.
Southbound drivers can still turn right onto Harry Sauner, McKenzie said.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.