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Massillon-Raber Road intersection closed for next month

Brian Lisik
Suburbanite correspondent

GREEN  For roughly the next month, drivers will not be able to access Raber Road onto or off of Massillon Road.

Motorists will, however, be treated to their first spins around two roundabouts being constructed as part of the city of Green’s massive Massillon Road North construction project.

The intersection of Raber and Massillon roads will be closed for the next month.

“We (closed) Raber Road at the Massillon Road intersection, with a detour off Raber to Mayfair to (State Route) 619,” said Green Communications Manager Valerie Wolford. “But we are starting to use the roundabouts.”

Traffic around the two roundabouts, at Raber and Stein roads, will be open with one lane in each direction during the 45-day closure, which began Oct. 5. Multiple lanes are planned for the roundabouts when completed.

Wolford said the roundabouts are expected to be completed this year, with a third – at Massillon and Route 619 – slated for a 2021 completion.

The Massillon Road North corridor project also includes the elimination of left turns onto Massillon in both directions. Wolford explained that the roundabouts will be used to access Massillon Road businesses.

“(For example) if you are heading south to Handel’s, you would go to the roundabout at Raber and use it almost as a U-turn,” Wolford said. “If you are leaving Handel’s, you will turn right and head north to the Stein Road roundabout, then U-turn to head south.”

Wolford said that the city understands such changes will be difficult for motorists early on. The result though, will be less congestion and fewer high impact crashes.

A safer solution

City Engineer Paul Pickett said a large part of the reason the city is receiving approximately $5 million in federal funding toward the estimated $15 million project – which will include more road improvements and roundabouts south of Interstate 77 through 2024 – is the safety aspect.

“The reason we are doing this is to best solve our problem of capacity and safety,” Pickett said. “The reason we are receiving safety funds is because of the high crash rate at 619 and Massillon Road.”

Pickett said lower impact fixes, such as simply removing the left turn lanes, would indeed solve much of the safety issues.

“But we (would) still have our capacity problem,” he said.

Pickett pointed out that some have questioned how congestion will be lessened with there will still be traffic lights on Massillon at the Interstate 77 highway ramps. Traffic bottle necks at Massillon and I-77, Pickett said, have largely been caused by traffic stacking up at numerous signaled intersections north and south of the interstate.

Roundabout crazy?

Pickett allowed that patience and somewhat of a learning curve will be required of drivers.

“There will be accidents, but they will be much lower impact,” he said. “The best thing that people can say about multi-lane roundabouts is, ‘I know how to drive a roundabout – nobody else does. ‘ But in multi-lane roundabouts, you must yield to the other lane and pick a lane and stay in it. (Problems occur) when drivers not familiar with the area come upon something unfamiliar and go ‘what do I do?’”

Pickett said he and city leaders are well aware of Green’s growing reputation as “roundabout crazy.”

“But it’s a tool that works, but some cities are reticent to approve them,” he said. “And sometimes it is a timing thing.  If you go back 20 years, we weren’t putting in roundabouts then. But this is a growing community.”