NEWARK — Infrastructure improvements were completed on Fourth Street, allowing drivers to travel through downtown Newark on the reopened Ohio 13 without stopping at a stoplight between Locust Street and National Drive near the South Fork Licking River .
The Fourth Street traffic lights at West Main and West Church streets were replaced with roundabouts that provide a continuous flow of traffic on State Route from the traffic light at Fourth and Locust streets near the Ohio 16 in/out to the stop light at West National Allow Drive, Wilwood Avenue and Calburn Street.
“Everything I’ve heard so far has been positive,” said city engineer Brian Morehead. “People are happy that they are not sitting at a traffic light and can keep moving. The speeds seem to be reduced.”
The City of Fourth Street’s $28 million infrastructure project corresponds to an Environmental Protection Agency mandate to separate plumbing and storm sewers to prevent sewage from combined sewers overflowing into the river.
As with the construction of Courthouse Square in 2015-18, city officials decided to make changes to the streets after mandatory underground utility work was completed.
The two new roundabouts are much larger than the mini-roundabouts in Courthouse Square.
“You’re going around the roundabout at 15 to 20 miles an hour now,” Morehead said. “It’s moving slower, but more evenly.”
One difference between the two new roundabouts is the word “Yield” in the pavement at the entrances to the roundabout at Church Street and Fourth Street. It does not appear on the main and fourth roundabouts.
“It’s a new thing that we would try to implement,” Morehead said. He said he doesn’t know if the five-dot roundabout, dubbed “The Bean” because of its shape, will “give”.
Give way signs are also in place at roundabout approaches to let drivers know that vehicles already in the roundabout have the right of way.
Morehead said the Church Street roundabout is a city project, while the Main Street roundabout is a contract funded by the Ohio Department of Transportation.
The project isn’t complete, however, as the next phase begins on Monday at West Locust and Granville streets.
West Locust Street will be closed on both sides of Fifth Street, but traffic on Fifth Street will be able to pass through the intersection. Granville Street will be closed from North Fifth Street to Central Avenue.
The traffic pattern, in effect next week, will remain in place throughout the winter, Morehead said. When the school year ends, construction of the roundabout at the five-point intersection of Fifth, Granville and Locust streets will begin.
Upon completion of the project next year, the city’s sewer separation work will move north and south of downtown, including work on Mount Vernon Road to Rugg Avenue and side streets such as Jefferson Road, Moull Street and Fairfield Avenue, and 2024-28 Hudson Avenue and the Interceptor Canal at 2024-26 South Second Street.