The Stark County Engineer’s office wants to convert two intersections on Pittsburg Avenue NW into roundabouts to relieve traffic congestion.

JACKSON TWP. Motorists who face rush hour on Pittsburg Avenue NW, Shuffel Street NW and Orion Street NW will have to wait awhile but relief is on the way.


The Stark County Engineer’s office has accepted its consultant’s recommendation to convert the intersections of Pittsburg and Shuffel and Pittsburg and Orion into two roundabouts to relieve traffic congestion. The roundabouts would be about 475 feet from each other and would not use traffic signals.


Construction is not scheduled to begin until the summer 2022 due to the time needed for design, purchasing land and grant funds becoming available later. It would take until fall 2022 or spring 2023 to be completed.


The estimated cost is $4 million.


In addition, the county engineer’s office is considering converting the Pittsburg/Mt. Pleasant Road NW intersection about a half mile to the north into a roundabout. But that’s part of a separate project estimated at about $3 million. Construction of a Mt. Pleasant roundabout would not be complete until probably late 2023.


Dave Torrence, chief deputy engineer, said the problem is vehicles seeking to turn left onto Pittsburg from Shuffel back up. But when the light turns green, vehicles on Shuffel can’t proceed because northbound traffic on Pittsburg going to Orion has backed up due to a red light at the Pittsburg/Orion intersection.


“During the peak hours, the intersections are so close together, they actually back up into each other,” said Torrence. “The traffic backs up on Shuffel. Almost all the way down to Whipple. ... The light turns green on Shuffel. You can’t go anywhere.”


Torrence said the traffic backup is the worst during the afternoon rush hour around 4 or 5 p.m. on weekdays as motorists come off I-77 to go home in the North Canton area.


He added that widening the roads and adding the lanes wouldn’t resolve the congestion because the flow of vehicles conflict with each other.


Complicating matters, the North Canton Cemetery adjoins both intersections to the east. And federal regulations essentially make the cemetery off limits in terms of providing space for an intersection expansion.


Prior to the opening of the new Shuffel interchange to Interstate 77 in 2007, annual average daily traffic on Shuffel between Whipple Avenue NW and Pittsburg was 3,700 vehicles a day in 2003. In 2016, it was 15,400, according to the Stark County Area Transportation Study.


Traffic on Orion Street between Cleveland Avenue NW and Pittsburg has grown from 3,300 average vehicles a day in 2007 to 7,600 in 2018.


Torrence said roundabouts can accommodate a larger flow of traffic as vehicles are consistently flowing through at about 25 miles per hour.


And because cars are going around a circle, slowing them down, the chances of a serious-injury accident are reduced.


With the Shuffel/Pittsburg and Orion/Pittsburg intersections so close together, it’s not possible to time the signals to facilitate optimal traffic flow, Torrence said.


The Stark County Engineer’s office has lined up about 75 percent of the $4 million cost, including $1.6 million through an Ohio Public Works Commission grant.


The county late last year bought a building at the northeast corner of Pittsburg and Orion that housed a pet grooming business for about $200,000. Torrence said the owner on hearing about the project contacted his office to offer to sell. The county has already demolished the building to clear space.


Torrence said the Engineer’s office plans to close only one of the two intersections at a time while it builds the roundabouts. Engineers believe they can maintain traffic from Shuffel to Pittsburg to Orion. But access to or from Mt. Pleasant on Pittsburg from south of Orion may be blocked.


The Stark County Engineer’s consultant MS Constulant has completed preliminary engineering for the project. It organized a meeting for the public at State State College last summer to discuss the scope.


Stark County commissioners last week approved amending the contract with MS so it will proceed to detailed design and engineering. MS will also oversee the purchase of right-of-way and temporary easements needed. This phase is expected to be completed by 2021. MS is set to earn a total fee of $771,044.


Reach Repository writer Robert Wang at (330) 580-8327 or robert.wang@cantonrep.com. On Twitter: @rwangREP