Roundabout 'will shut down' local business, owner says

Zoe Greszler • Updated Jan 8, 2019 at 7:27 AM

Just about everyone agrees, it’s needed. But at what cost does the proposed roundabout come at? 

The Huron County Safe Communities Coalition will meet Thursday to discuss the possibility of a roundabout at the intersection of U.S. 20 and Ohio 601.

Ohio 601 has been a troubled road over the years with numerous accidents at Ohio 18, U.S. 20 and Ohio 61. The state Highway Patrol said troopers consider it a “dangerous intersection” and in 2018 the area saw one fatality plus four injury and two non-injury crashes. The fatality is suspected to have involved alcohol and/or drugs.

It’s these statistics that caught the coalition’s attention as an “intersection of concern for Huron County.”

“In June 2018, a safety analysis of the intersection and possible safety counter-measures were presented to the coalition by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT),” the coalition said in a prepared statement. “After reviewing the analysis, the Huron County Safe Communities Coalition has chosen to explore a roundabout as a possible counter-measure to improve traffic safety in this area.”

Owner of the Old Gulf Inn, Lisa Williams, received a printout of the proposed roundabout. She said it doesn’t feel like it’s an accurate representation of what’s going to actually be constructed. Old Gulf Inn is located at 1390 U.S. 20.

“I know this corner and what Huron County has printed up — that’s not going to work,” Williams said. “Huron County printed that up. It’s not from ODOT.”

Williams said as far as she can tell, the single-lane roundabout actually would have the potential to cause more problems than it would solve. She said thinks a double-lane roundabout will be needed. 

“All the semis and racers (at Summit Motorsports Park) coming through here will need double lanes. They’re saying they’re going to go around my (business’) property and that they might have to replace my mailbox. Huron County printed this out. This is not engineered by an official engineer though,” Williams said.

“I’m not a stupid woman here. This is not going to work. It’s going to be double-lane large roundabout. A double-trailer semi won’t be able to get around a single-lane roundabout. They can hardly get around the intersection now. They’re indicating it won’t be any bigger than the intersection that’s already here, but what effect is that going have on accidents? It might slow traffic, but it’d be just as bad.”

Williams said the construction work alone on the intersection will have an effect on her business. If her predictions of a double-lane highway are right, she said she’d have to close the Old Golf Inn, which has been running since 2003.

“If it’s going to go in and tear up this intersection, I may as well close my business down,” she said. “It will shut me down (if they do a double-lane roundabout) and they’ll have to tear down this building that’s been here since 1927.

“It’s going to have to take the whole corner. This needs to be done, but it’s going to touch every bit (of) this property here. I believe it’s going to take the surrounding property to complete this project the way it needs to be done. I probably will be shutting down, but I will be shutting down because they’ll need this property to do what needs to be done — to put in an appropriate size roundabout.”

Despite the economic repercussions, Williams said she doesn’t feel it’s a bad idea. She recognizes its importance, adding that the intersection “scares” her and “something needs to be done.”

“I have become quite distressed,” she said. “There are so many accidents and they’re bad accidents and they always end up in my parking lot. It’s awful to see them have to get the Jaws of Life and pull someone out, especially if they pull someone out who’s lost their life. It needs to be done. It scares me to death. I hear semis slamming on their brakes and hear cars blowing their horns and I just close my eyes, waiting to hear the crash. When I hear a crash, I can’t even go and look anymore.

“It will be sad to see (the Old Gulf Inn) go, but if it’s going to prevent death at this intersection, if that’s what it takes to get that done and safen up this corner and to save lives, then yes it needs to be done. It needs to be slowed down and something needs done. But I’m telling you, Huron County did a guesstimation on this. It’s going to be a double-lane and not a single-lane roundabout.”

Williams said she plans to be at the coalition meeting Thursday, which will be held from 9:45 to 11:45 a.m. at the Huron County Administrative Building, 180 Milan Ave., meeting room A. The community is invited. 

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