A new Costco project in Perrysburg is expected to draw 500 more cars during peak evening driving times to the congested State Rt. 25 and Eckel Junction Road intersection.
The road crossing now handles about 3,300 vehicles at a peak evening hour, according to city of Perrysburg officials.
Costco’s own study says its 154,300-square-foot store proposed for the site near the southeast corner of Rt. 25 and Eckel Junction would add about 350 new trips through the intersection during peak hours each day, and two accompanying small stores on the site would add 140.
Costco has refused to answer Blade questions about its project.
The company’s study doesn’t forecast added traffic for a full day, but projecting the evening traffic flow throughout the store’s hours could mean another 5,100 cars per day would use Route 25 or Eckel Junction. Recent counts from the city and a government agency found about 41,000 vehicles a day use the intersection.
Even though the intersection is to be widened this year, it won’t be rated highly for traffic flow. It is expected to move from an “E” grade to a “D” grade after the changes, according to Costco’s study.
The study says a “D” grade is considered “allowable” but not necessarily “desirable” by the Ohio Department of Transportation. The grades are based on how long it takes traffic to flow through the intersection.
“The constant theme with residents is traffic, which is their obvious concern,” Perrysburg City Council member Rick Rettig said. The widening project this year should address those concerns, he said.
Costco says it expects half of its traffic from nearby I-475, about 10 percent from each side on Eckel Junction Road, and about 15 percent from each side of Route 25.
The Washington company, which has one local store, has a plan for the site that shows a gas station with 16 pumps and a right-turn entrance off northbound Route 25. It also would have a right-turn exit from the gas station area onto northbound Route 25, just north of the I-475 exit ramp.
The company site plan also shows a right-turn entrance on eastbound Eckel Junction as well as a main entrance and exit drive further east on Eckel Junction with a traffic signal.
A public hearing for a special-use permit is 6 p.m. Thursday before city council. Council is to vote on the permit at its 6:30 p.m. March 25 meeting. The city’s planning commission is expected to vote on the final site plan at its 7 p.m. March 27 meeting.
Brian Craig of Craig Transportation Co. on Eckel Road is concerned that his trucks would have trouble moving through an even-more-crowded intersection. His firm has been in Perrysburg since 1963. It has about 60 to 80 delivery trucks that use the intersection daily.
“I love Costco, but it is in the wrong spot,” he said.
“In my opinion [the intersection] is overloaded. It will be a nightmare if Costco opens while that intersection is under construction.”
Residents at Callander Court, a subdivision on Eckel Junction and east of Route 25, just east of where the main Costco entrance would be, have voiced concerns at city meetings.
They are wary about traffic backing up on Eckel Junction heading west toward the Costco entrance and toward State Rt. 25, which could block entering and exiting their neighborhood.
A “please don’t block the intersection” sign will be put up as well as a marked stripe on the road to help prevent that, said Brody Walter, city planning and zoning administrator.
City Council President John Kevern tried to temper residents’ concerns, indicating that Costco is not like a sports arena where customers are leaving all at the same time, clogging the roads.
ODOT is reviewing the Costco traffic study to check the traffic projection figures. Michael Stormer, ODOT district planning engineer, declined to answer other questions about the store’s impact until that review is done.
He said, however, any traffic problems would be addressed and the proposed right-in and right-out access on Route 25 would benefit traffic flow by giving vehicles access to and from the store without going through the intersection.
Costco’s report says all three of its driveway entrances are “anticipated to operate acceptably and with sufficient queue storage,” which means there should not be traffic backup problems onto the roads. At peak times, its study indicates, vehicles may have to wait nearly a minute to get through the light at the intersection.
Mr. Craig, the trucking business owner, said his main concern is with his trucks that exit northbound I-475, which heads west there, onto Route 25 and turn north. He fears they’ll be unable to cross traffic to reach the left-turn lane for westbound Eckel Junction, toward his headquarters.
Perrysburg officials plan a $2.25 million widening project at the intersection to begin in July and finish in December.
The plan adds four lanes at the intersection and a fifth lane if Costco is built, as well as lengthening four existing lanes that now narrow not far from the road crossing.
The city would pay for most of the improvements. But Costco would pay $396,000 if its left-turn lane is built and Mercy, which has an emergency medical clinic on the west side of Route 25, would pay about $350,000.
“The designs [for the road improvements] were made to anticipate all the vacant property [in the area] to be built out based on its highest, most intense, use,” said Perrysburg Administrator Bridgette Kabat.
Also planned by ODOT is revamping the Route 25 interchange at I-475/U.S. 23. The $8 million project would create an unusual “diverging diamond” layout, but the project is not fully funded or scheduled.
Here’s what is planned at the Route 25/Eckel Junction intersection:
■ Add a 325-foot-long right-turn lane on westbound Eckel Junction as it approaches Route 25.
■ Add a lane on eastbound Eckel Junction west of the intersection.
■ Add a 350-foot-long right-turn lane on southbound Route 25 as it approaches the intersection.
■ Add a 500-foot long left-turn lane on northbound Route 25 as it approaches the intersection. If Costco is approved, there also will be a 350-foot long second left-turn lane on westbound Eckel Junction as it approaches the intersection.
The existing lanes to be lengthened are:
■ An eastbound left-turn lane on Eckel Junction is to be lengthened from its current 250 feet to 375 feet from the intersection.
■ An eastbound right-turn lane on Eckel Junction is to be lengthened from 250 to 525 feet.
■ A westbound left-turn lane on Eckel Junction is to be lengthened from 325 to 350 feet.
■ A southbound left turn lane on Rt. 25 is to be lengthened from 235 to 350 feet.