A portion of an Akron highway that has been the center of recent complaints is now expected to undergo a change.
“To me it’s no different than texting to have to look over my shoulder in a short distance,” said Bob Bussey of Coventry Township.
Bussey doesn’t like the way the way traffic moves through Interstate 277/U.S. Route 224 eastbound before the I-77 southbound ramp in Akron. He’s not alone. Several complaints have popped up on Facebook after one person was killed in a fatal crash in that same area on Feb. 21.
The two right lanes on the highway are used only to exit onto 77 southbound. The left lane is to remain on Rt. 224 eastbound. It was a change implemented by the Ohio Department of Transportation that was designed to help increase traffic flow around ramp closures when crews were working to on a bridge removal project around Akron’s Central Interchange.
Despite signage on the highway pointing to the upcoming lane change, Bussey has noticed vehicles making dangerous, last minute lane changes before picking their destination.
“At times, I had to go to 77 South when I didn’t want to because I couldn’t move over to the left lane.”
After the fatal crash reported in late February, Bussey contacted the Ohio Department of Transportation to express his concerns and to possible change the middle lane into a ‘decision lane.’
“We try it with a desperate desire to get into that third lane right away, but it’s blocked off. If it wasn’t blocked off and we had that decision lane, then there’s no problem.”
ODOT responded by stating that the department has decided to add a decision lane in the center lane based on the lower than expected volumes utilizing the ramp to I-77 south
“We monitored traffic during the [Central Interchange] closures and found that traffic to warrant the change wasn’t there, so we’re going to be changing it back,” said ODOT District 4 Spokesman Brent Kovacs. “That decision came back in the fall, late summer.”
According to ODOT, new signs will be added but the restriping of the new reconfiguration is based on weather. A concrete barrier at the split was removed on Feb. 24.
ODOT has requested the report from the fatal crash in February to look at the contributing factors in the incident. The crash remains under investigation. The Summit County Sheriff’s Office is still looking for witnesses to the accident to help piece together information in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call Crash Investigator Bob DiSabato at 330-643-2181.