BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
Project Manager Dan Kaseman of District 2 of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is hard at work solving the dilemma of SE Catawba Road (State Route 53) that is the gateway to Ottawa County shoreline attractions and ferries to the Lake Erie Islands.
Local officials had been campaigning diligently to fund the Route 53 Corridor, adding a third lane to the two-lane highway from State Route 2 north to State Route 163, providing a center two-way left turn lane and construct two single land roundabouts at the intersection of State Route 2 and adjacent State Road.
ODOT has been regularly evaluating traffic counts in the area, and accepting comments from local residents since December 2020. The Ohio Legislature has approved the $10 million for the project, but the plans have yet to be completed.
“Of all the options, the preferred solution has been to widen State Route 53 from State Route 2 to State Route 163, and construct the two roundabouts at State Route 2 and State Road,” said Kaseman. “We’re hoping to have the plans in place soon, and begin construction by the end of 2023. We hope to have the design and construction plans in place by the end of March 2022.”
To widen State Route 53 will take a full year of construction in 2024, said Kaseman.
Other plans ranged from no changes to State Route 2 or the intersection at State Route 53 to widening State Route 53 and placing a roundabout at State Route 2/State Route 53 with signal improvements at State Road.
“The single roundabout and signal improvements at State Road would actually be more expensive than installing two roundabouts,” said Kasemen. “The extra expense would be due to the required acquisition of more properties at the State Road intersection.”
Two major hotels and a Friendship Food Store already crowd the State Road intersection.
“This is a very big project for us, and we want to take the time to make sure we get it right,” Kaseman.