Lovers Lane is a minor arterial that runs north-south in the western part of Steubenville. This road serves the surrounding residential area as well as the regional mall and through traffic. The northern end of Lovers Lane serves as a major connector between SR 43 (Sunset Blvd) and US 22. The southern end of Lovers Lane connects with Sinclair Avenue and County Route 22. Both Sinclair Avenue and Route 26 serve as connectors to the eastern part of Steubenville and also connect to SR 7. Since Lovers Lane is a major connector for multiple state and federal routes as well as the Fort Steuben Mall it receives a large volume of traffic.
Lovers Lane was built back in the 1920s and wasn’t expected to receive the amount of traffic that it receives today. Lovers Lane is a narrow 19 feet curb to curb making it difficult to navigate. The problem arises when people are trying to turn left onto Fort Steuben Drive during peak hours. There is no possibility of getting around the driver turning because the road is so narrow, ultimately causing traffic to back up. This has been a growing problem for quite some time.
The City of Steubenville has desired to make improvements to this road for several years but it has only created political controversy. Originally they proposed to widen the road very minimally to put in a turn lane but the residents opposed this idea because they feared that it would increase the volume of traffic and encourage higher rates of speed. In 2008, the City of Steubenville decided to hire a consulting firm to develop an Improvement Concept Plan. After doing research, three solutions were proposed:
- Widen the road and create a southbound turn lane and increase the corner turn radii for right turn
- Install a traffic signal
- Construct a roundabout at the intersection
The first suggestion addresses the traffic flow problem in the southbound direction, but it creates a sight distance problem for the people turning left out of Fort Steuben Drive. Suggestion number two is a viable solution and alternative but there is concern that a traffic signal is not an appropriate traffic control device for this area. Suggestion three is a solution that not only addresses the community’s concern about traffic speeds but also solves the congestion problem caused by the lack of a southbound left turn lane.
A roundabout is a circular intersection that makes drivers yield to oncoming traffic as opposed to coming to a complete stop and waiting your turn at a normal traffic light. Roundabouts are different than rotaries and other traffic circles. The geometry of the roundabout forces drivers to use slower rates of speeds. When comparing roundabouts to other types of intersections there are safety benefits as well as reduced congestion, reduced pollution and fuel use, and it saves money. Roundabouts greatly reduce the amount of potential contact points and as a result virtually eliminate high speed head on and right angle collisions.
This graphic provided by the Federal Highway Administration compares the contact points between normal traffic lights and roundabouts. Roundabouts are not only safer for the driver but for pedestrians as well. With the island dividing traffic lanes it makes it easier for pedestrians to cross one section at a time in a shorter amount of time. While roundabouts have a higher up front cost, they actually cost less to maintain and have a better economic value.
Current Project Status
Design plans were completed in August 2015. The City of Steubenville finished right-of-way acquisition in May 2016.
In June, preliminary work began when crews from American Electric Power moved utility poles between Teresa Drive and Bryden Road away from the street. For three weeks traffic was closed to all through traffic from 7 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
Bids were received in July 2016.
Construction of the roundabout is scheduled to begin in March 2017. This phase of the project should be completed by July 2017. Shelly & Sands is the contractor with a low bid of $1,389,945.40.
Here is a video provided by the Federal Highway Association explaining the benefits of roundabouts: