A proposed upgrade to the Fields Ertel/Mason-Montgomery interchange off Interstate 71 could reduce traffic there by as much as 55 percent, according to Warren County transportation officials.
More than two dozen residents crowded Deerfield Township’s trustees room Thursday to hear representatives of the Warren County Transportation District discuss upgrades to the traffic-clogged interchange near the border of southern Warren and northern Hamilton counties.
About 80,000 vehicles travel through the intersection each day, resulting in delays and backups that have long been a source of frustration for residents and commuters.
The area is a key economic engine for Warren County. Within miles of the interchange are, among others: Procter & Gamble’s Mason Business Center, Deerfield Towne Center shopping center, Kings Automall and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s Mason campus.
“Statewide, this was the highest-ranked project in Ohio,” said Joseph Vogel, a planning and engineering administrator with the Ohio Department of Transportation’s District 08 in Lebanon.
Warren County Engineer Neil Tunison says the county is making phased improvements to the area.
Two projects have already been completed: A $1.6 million project built an additional northbound lane from Fields Ertel to Parkway Drive and a $1.4 million project coordinated 22 traffic signals in the area.
Crews begin work on two other projects this summer, both of which are expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2013.
A $2 million project will expand the exit lane at the northbound Fields Ertel/Mason-Montgomery exit to allow vehicles to exit I-71 and move onto an expanded off ramp sooner while a $1.4 million project will add an additional right turn lane from southbound I-71 onto Mason-Montgomery Road.
Work is expected to begin in the spring of 2014 on a loop ramp to relieve congestion by allowing northbound traffic to bypass the intersection. The $13 million dollar project is expected to wrap up by late 2015.
Tunison said the loop ramp upgrade will reduce traffic by about 50 percent in the morning and as much as 55 percent during evening rush hour.
“We’re trying to eliminate the backups on the exit ramp where we have identified we have a safety problem,” he said. “We can further improve that and make the local street network flow a little better by getting (cars) out of that intersection.”
Residents expressed concern about additional traffic burdens that could result from a proposed 124-acre residential and commercial development at the southeast corner of Western Row and Mason-Montgomery Road in Mason.
Mason City Council voted to rezone the land, the site of the former Western Row Golf Course, from single family residential to mixed-use planned unit development with a concept planned unit development plan at its Feb. 11 council meeting.
Tunison says the plans factor in traffic projection through 2030 and that the loop ramp upgrade should accommodate extra traffic from nearby developments.
“Our crystal ball is only so good when we figure out traffic,” he said. “We’re not fixing all the problems; we’re just excited that we have three projects we can move forward with.”
Landen resident Deborah Reed said that while she liked many of the proposed upgrades, she remains cautiously optimistic.
“I have lived here for 34 years when it was just one stoplight and it has not stopped,” she said. “This is another Colerain Ave.”
Residents can weigh in on the proposed loop ramp project through March 15. Submit comments online at www.advancingfieldsertel.com or call 513-804-8033.