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Published: Thursday, 4/17/2014 - Updated: 4 months ago

ODOT approves Costco traffic study, says planned road improvements acceptable

BY MATT THOMPSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Ohio Department of Transportation has approved Costco's traffic impact and analysis study for its location at the southeast corner of Eckel Junction Road and State Rt. 25 in Perrysburg.

The state agency has, in effect, agreed with the traffic projections and with the proposed intersection improvements and not found the big-box store development to be a detriment to the roads in the vicinity.

The Costco traffic study says that, during the peak evening rush hour, the store will add nearly 500 vehicles using the intersection. About 3,300 vehicles pass through the intersection at a peak evening hour now, according to Perrysburg officials. The intersection now handles about 41,000 vehicles a day.

Michael Stormer, ODOT district planning engineer, said he does not perceive a large negative impact from that traffic on the I-475 interchange and said the Eckel Junction and Rt. 25 intersection widening will make the road crossing acceptable.

The "D" level of service during rush hour at the intersection is deemed acceptable by ODOT because it is in an urban area. Mr. Stormer said that, if the road crossing was in the country with a "D" level of service, it would be unacceptable. The grades are given by traffic engineers and are based on how long a vehicle has to wait at the intersection to get through the light.

The "D" level means cars wait on average from 35 to 55 seconds before passing through the intersection.

Costco's traffic study said ODOT indicated that a "C" grade or better during peak hours is desirable, but "D" is allowable. City officials also have indicated that a "D" grade is less than desirable but is allowable.

The plan to widening the intersection with four new lanes and a fifth lane on Eckel Junction to handle exiting traffic from Costco, plus lengthening four existing widened lanes will improve the traffic flow, Mr. Stormer said. That work, costing $2.25 million, is to start this summer and be completed before year's end.

Asked about whether the current widening was sufficient or whether more work should be done to raise the grade level of service of the road crossing, he said, "I don't know if there is room to squeeze another lane there or not. You can always continue to build more lanes but whether that is a viable option is the question, is it realistic?"

Costs to buy right-of-way and for the work to added even more lanes to handle the traffic might be too expensive to be worthwhile, he explained.

Costco has the necessary City of Perrysburg approvals to build a 154,300-square foot store near the southeast corner of the intersection. It is expected to open by fall 2015. The project includes a 16-pump gas station and two adjoining lots that could have a fast-food restaurant and drive-through bank. Costco plans to have 720 parking spots.

The gas station is accessible with a right-turn in off of Rt. 25 and with a right-turn exit onto Rt. 25. Mr. Stormer said ODOT initially had concerns about a back up at the gas station entrance, but analysis from Costco indicated there is enough car-stacking room on the site. That entrance, he noted, will allow Costco shoppers to avoid passing through Eckel Junction and Rt. 25 intersection.

As for concerns some residents have had about possible backed up traffic on the I-475 westbound exit ramp at Rt. 25, Mr. Stormer said the added Costco traffic should not worsen any backups. It "obviously won't help, but it will not be a huge decrement," he said.

He supports a planned $8 million project to create a "diverging diamond" layout for the I-475/Rt. 25 interchange, but there is no timetable or funding to do that project.

Costco's next step is to reach an agreement with Columbia Gas Transmissions about relocating an underground natural gas pipeline which crosses it 28-acre site. The pipeline owner says Costco cannot build a parking lot over the line because it hinders inspection and maintenance. A rerouted line, however, needs the Columbia Gas Transmission's approval and a federal permit, which could take a year or more to obtain.

Costco is expected to demolish the existing horse farm and housing at the site in the next few months, but construction of the store isn't expected to start for a year.

Contact Matt Thompson at: mthompson@theblade.com, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.



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